Thailand: The King and Us

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March31, 2006: One thing keeping the Islamic rebellion in the south from gaining wider support is the respect and affection older Moslems have for the king. The monarchy has long operated as a restraint on the men who actually run the country. The current king, Bhumibol, has been on the throne for sixty years, and has long worked to improve the lives of the southern provinces. Even the young radicals down there, do not attack the royal projects (mainly research centers for improving agriculture), for fear of angering the majority of Moslem farmers in the south. The king is also known for advocating a non-violent resolution of the problems in the south. To young radicals, this is just a game of "good cop/bad cop." But the Islamic radicals are a minority, and the majority in the south still believe in the king.

March 30, 2006: In the south, two drive by shootings left two dead and five wounded. While the victims were non-Moslems, the attacks were believed as revenge for the recent arrest of a man suspected of carrying out earlier attacks. The Islamic rebels want to encourage the police to get rough, which will make it easier for the terrorists to get the local population on their side.

March 28, 2006: A time bomb was found, and disarmed, three hours before it was set to explode, in the headquarters of an opposition political party. This was not believed to be the work of Islamic radicals, but the culprit has yet to be found.

March 27, 2006: The demonstrations against the prime minister are going to continue until the national elections on April 2nd. The king refused to replace the prime minister, and all will depend on the outcome of the election. The prime minister is heeding the kings advice, and putting more effort into non-violent resolution of the Islamic rebellion in the south. This approach is much less dramatic, and hard for a politician to sell. But apparently, having the king on your side is more important than some headline grabbing counter-terrorism operations.


 

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