Thailand: Coup Collapses, Terrorists Stumble

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February 3, 2008: While some officials believe al Qaeda is behind the Moslem rebels in the south (with money and technical advice), most believe that the rebels down south are simply inspired, via TV and the Internet, by Islamic radicals elsewhere. This has led to some Moslems in the police and army cooperating with the rebels. An investigation of this led to the arrest of ten soldiers and policemen, and warnings given to many more. There are many Moslems in the south who oppose the Islamic radicals, and to encourage this, the government is increasing the number of men it arms in each village. This local security force has hampered, or halted, terrorist operations in many parts of the south. The more secure villages are, the more likely there are to be informers. To capitalize on that, patrols will increase, making it easier to come to aid of village security forces, and collect tips from informants. Few people in the south favor the Islamic terrorists, partly because the terrorists are another criminal gang making demands, and partly because the unrest has brought in more non-Moslem police and soldiers, who often take a personal dislike to some of the locals. It's all very uncomfortable, and often leads to violent, and sometimes fatal, encounters. The increased counter-terror operations are leading to arrests, and the capture of bomb making workshops. The violence is basically disaffected young people doing the usual futile terrorism bit against their evil elders. This is turning off more and more southerners, who see no point in it all.

January 29, 2008: The king approved the new prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, despite the fact that he is an ally of the deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The aristocracy, generals and urban elites did not like Thaksin, but underestimated how broad and determined his support was. The coup was basically the capital versus the rest of the country, and the capital lost. Thais are very adroit in these matters, which is why the junta was simply able to hold an election, see which way the political winds were blowing, and step aside.

January 23, 2008: Down south, Islamic terrorists set off a remote control bomb near where 200 soldiers were gathered, wounding seven of the troops.

January 22, 2008: The military officers, who have been running the country for the last sixteen months, disbanded their junta (a ruling committee), and promised not to stage any more coups. Apparently the generals are fearful of retribution from the politicians they deposed, who continued to have the support of the majority of Thais and won the recent elections.

 

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