Thailand: Preparing For A Bigger War


February 24, 2011:  While terror attacks are up so far this year, investigations are more frequently leading back to drug gangs, who are financing the attacks and protecting the terrorists. Police have made hundreds of arrests, and about a hundred terrorists have surrendered. While many trace their radicalization to Moslem religious school, there always seemed to be someone from one of the drug gangs there to provide cash, or weapons, to keep the killing going.

Red shirt populists and yellow shirt royalists are still demonstrating in the capital, but the sense of crises has diminished. The yellow shirts are largely responsible for the current "war" with Cambodia, by pushing the use of force to press a shaky claim on some land around a border temple. Most of the population backs the red shirts, but no one wants a civil war over the issue of new elections (which the royalists would lose).

The armed forces have put 15,000 troops on the Cambodia border, around a 4.6 square kilometer temple compound that both nations claim control over. Cambodia have about the same number of troops in the area, but Thailand has prepared plans to send a lot more troops to the border, and apply Thailand's larger and more powerful military power against Cambodia.  The royalists running the current government see this as a way to gain wider support in Thailand.

February 22, 2011:  Six Gripen fighter jets flew in from Sweden, flown by Swedish pilots. The air force has bought twelve of these aircraft, to replace decades old U.S. F-5s. Another six Gripens will be delivered over the next six years. The six that just arrived will enter service in a month or so.

February 21, 2011: In the south, two bombs went off, killing one and wounding 17.

February 20, 2011:  A ceasefire was agreed to with Cambodia, and took effect in the border area where troops have been shooting has been more frequent in the last few months. The basic border dispute is about a century old, and none of the previous agreements have lasted.

February 17, 2011: In the south, a car bomb went off, wounding 17. Elsewhere in the south, a soldier doing intelligence work was shot and killed.

February 15, 2011: In the south, a Moslem villager was shot dead with an AK-47 fired from a passing motorcycle. On the Cambodian border, fighting again broke out, apparently in the form of grenades being thrown by both sides.

February 14, 2011:  Two F-16s, on their way to a training exercise, crashed in the forest. The pilots ejected, and an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the loss. Thailand's F-16As are old models, with decades of use on them.

February 13, 2011: In the south, a car bomb went off, killing one and wounding 17.

February 10, 2011: In the south, two Buddhists and a Moslem were killed by Islamic terrorists.



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