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Thailand

Following the smooth royal succession, and with the military government firmly in control,there are no obvious triggers in Thailand for political turmoil in the near term. Yet the country’s fundamental political and social divisions have not been bridged, and there is potential for future conflict between elected and unelected authorities. In the deep south, the Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency continues, as does a sterile and slow-moving peace-dialogue process that is rejected by the main insurgent group. Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of escalation in the south and limit medium-term threats to political stability by supporting the strengthening of Thailand’s democratic institutions and promoting substantive peace talks.

CrisisWatch Thailand

Unchanged Situation

Militants staged coordinated bombings across country’s four southernmost provinces 20 May, mostly targeting ATMs and utility poles; sixteen IEDs exploded, three people injured. Among attacks in Yala province, militants 15 May launched grenades at three separate security posts in Krong Penang district and Yaha district, injuring two rangers; on 4 May detonated bombs on two cellular towers and set tyres on fire in several districts. In Narathiwat province, one ranger wounded 25 May in clash with militants on border between Rangae and Chanae districts. Gunmen killed Muslim man and wounded former defence volunteer in Rangae on 26 May. No public developments in peace dialogue process between Bangkok and MARA Patani following April announcement by PM Prayuth that pilot safety zone would be established in Narathiwat’s Cho Airong district. Election victory of Pakatan Harapan in Malaysia prompted speculation new Malaysian govt may review its role as dialogue facilitator (Malaysian facilitator was reportedly close to former Malaysian PM Najib Razak). Security officials set up checkpoints on roads leading to Bangkok ahead of four-year anniversary of military coup that brought National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to power 22 May; hundreds of demonstrators attempted to march to Government House, fifteen protest leaders arrested and charged with sedition, released on bail 24 May. NCPO 18 May launched proceedings against Pheu Thai Party for violating regime orders banning political activity and for violating Computer Crimes Act, after three of its members read out indictment of military rule before media. Constitutional Court 30 May ruled that draft organic law on election of MPs does not violate constitution, clearing an obstacle to general election.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

10 Jun 2017
[The Barisan Revolusi Nasional sees its struggle as] nationalist and anti-colonial. Subordinating their struggle to a forlorn agenda imposed by outsiders would be counter-productive, if not suicidal. The Straits Times

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
28 Apr 2017
The militants [of the National Revolutionary Front] continue to demonstrate that they have the capabilities to launch attacks across the region despite of the security measures by the Thai state. Voice of America

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
10 Apr 2017
[The main southern Thai insurgent group BRN] perceive the current (peace) process as one driven by Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for their own interests. AFP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
28 Aug 2016
The bombings [in Thailand] may have been intended to compel the military government to reconsider its approach to the conflict in the deep south. The Washington Post

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
24 Aug 2016
Two years of military rule haven't really resolved any of the fundamental problems [in Thailand] ... and the constitution won't succeed in doing that either. The day of reckoning is just being delayed. AP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia

Latest Updates

Watch List 2017 – Second Update

Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Asia

Government, Rebels Must End Pernicious Impasse

Originally published in Bangkok Post

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Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
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