After a decade of violence, the capabilities of Malay-Muslim insurgents in Thailand’s Deep South are outpacing the counter-measures of successive governments in Bangkok that have been mired in complacency and protracted national-level political disputes.
01 July 2014
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The violent border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year have challenged the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to turn its rhetoric into action, but to achieve peace and security more robust diplomacy is required to end a still unresolved conflict.
If Thailand is to minimise the risk of renewed demonstrations and violence, it needs to ensure that forthcoming elections are free and fair and that a legitimate government is formed without any interference from the elite establishment.
The Thai government needs to break the stalemate in the southern insurgency by seriously pursuing political solutions, including addressing past injustices, engaging in dialogue with Malay Muslim militants, and exploring new governance arrangements.
The Thai government should immediately lift the state of emergency to create conditions for national reconciliation that would allow the building of a new political consensus and the holding of peaceful elections if the country is to return to stability.
The Thai political system has broken down and seems incapable of pulling the country back from the brink of widespread conflict. The stand-off in the streets of Bangkok between the government and Red Shirt protesters is worsening and could deteriorate into an undeclared civil war.
On taking office, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva pledged to reclaim policy on the southern insurgency from the military.
While Thai leaders are preoccupied with turmoil in Bangkok, the insurgency in the South continues to recruit young Malay Muslims, especially from private Islamic schools.
Street protests are threatening to bring down the government led by the People Power Party (PPP) just nine months after it won a decisive victory in general elections.
The government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is struggling for political survival and has handed the military full responsibility for tackling the violent insurgency in the Muslim-dominated Deep South, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the past four years.
Thailand: Conflict Alert
13 Jan 2014
Conflict Risk Alert: Thailand
30 Apr 2010
Thailand: Bridging The Divide
5 July 2010: Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group's South East Asia Project Director, explains how despite an outbreak of violence between April and May, in which thousands of demonstrators were killed and injured, Thailand's military-backed government currently has few real solutions on offer. Listen
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