September 19, 2006: For the first time in 14 years, the army staged a coup. It was believed that Thailand was beyond this sort of thing, but apparently not. The drill is this. When the politicians become so corrupt and mixed up in their political games that the government ceases to function effectively, the generals hit the reset switch, take over, change some of the rules, ban some of the politicians, declare their loyalty to the king, hold new elections, and the politicians take over again.
September 16, 2006: Six more bombs went off in busy commercial areas of the south, killing five and wounding over fifty. This attack was directed at the economy, as it hit a tourist area. The Islamic radicals behind the attacks do not support tourism, and the influx of infidels (non-Moslems.) In the wake of the bombings, over a thousand tourists left the area.
Despite the Moslem rebellion in the south, a Moslem is now running the country. The head of the army, general Sonthi Boonyaratglin, is a Moslem from the south. What's interesting about this is not Sonthi's religion, but his relationships with the government. There has been unrest between Sonthi, and some senior government officials, over his approach to dealing with the Moslem unrest in the south. Some officials have been publicly critical of Sonthi's willingness to reach out to moderate Moslems, in an attempt to get legitimate grievances aired and addressed, and thus isolate the more radical elements. But the issues between Sonthi and his critics may have different roots. When the general took office, he cleaned house, sweeping a lot of dead wood out of important posts and replacing them with younger, and more competent, personnel. Apparently this ticked off some senior military and political officials, who'd been stashing their inept relatives, old comrades, and political cronies in the military bureaucracy. Being both Moslem and competent. Sonthi is currently the best hope for solving the problems down there. But first he has to deal with the Old Boys network. A coup does not eliminate this crew, it just reshuffles it. The future of Thailand depends on how everyone plays the next hand they are dealt.