icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Whatsapp Youtube

Thailand

Thailand’s junta has relinquished military rule in favour of pseudo-democracy in which a pro-military party governs with a narrow parliamentary majority. There are no obvious near-term triggers for political turmoil in Thailand, but the country’s fundamental political and social divisions have not been bridged, and there is potential for future conflict. In the deep south, the Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency continues, while the dialogue process appears moribund. Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of escalation in the south and limit medium-term threats to political stability by supporting strengthened democratic institutions and promoting substantive peace talks. 

CrisisWatch Thailand

Improved Situation

Govt and main militant separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) advanced peace talks and agreed to Ramadan ceasefire, notwithstanding continued deadly violence in deep south. Govt and BRN 31 March-1 April met for dialogue, with BRN for first time sending member of military wing, Deng Awaeji – indicating BRN effort to demonstrate internal unity. Both sides endorsed General Principles of Peace Dialogue Process previously discussed in Jan working group meeting, committing each side to “political solutions in accordance with the will of the Patani community under the Unitary State of Thailand in accordance with the Constitution”, public consultation and reduction of violence; both parties also agreed to reducing violence from 3 April to 14 May in Ramadan Peace Initiative. Despite pledge holding steady, violence continued in deep south throughout month. Notably, unidentified gunmen 5 April shot dead Malay-Muslim man in Mae Kaen district, Pattani province. Unidentified gunmen 10 April shot and killed Muslim leader in Nong Chik district, Pattani. IED 15 April killed civilian in Saiburi district, with second bomb targeting responding explosive ordnance disposal officers, wounding three; Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) president Kasturi Mahkota 16 April claimed responsibility, saying group named PULO G5 carried out attack due to PULO’s exclusion from BRN dialogue with govt. Member of Thai dialogue delegation next day said attack would not derail Ramadan Peace Initiative and that govt was “ready and happy to talk to all groups”. Meanwhile in capital Bangkok, unknown assailants 10 April threw two “ping pong bombs” into First Infantry Regiment compound, location of PM’s residence, with no injuries reported; police next day arrested seven suspects, including rapper and political activist Thanayuth Na Ayutthaya (alias Eleven Fingers), Patima Fakthong, and pro-democracy protest leader Pornpoj Chaengkrachang (alias Phet Phra Uma), along with four minors.

Continue reading

Reports & Briefings

In The News

12 Feb 2020
I think the reason [for the new talks in Thailand] is that [the Muslim separatists] recognize that the conflict is not going to end on the battlefield for them; it's going to have to end at the negotiating table. Voice of America

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
22 Jan 2020
As difficult as the [peace process in Thailand] has been up to this point, the most difficult work remains to be done. AFP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
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

Latest Updates

Report / Asia

COVID-19 and a Possible Political Reckoning in Thailand

Sound public health policies have largely spared Thailand from the coronavirus to date. But a looming economic crisis could shake the foundations of the political order. What is needed is revision of the 2017 constitution to allow for more pluralism and less inequality.

Also available in ภาษาไทย
Report / Asia

Southern Thailand’s Peace Dialogue: Giving Substance to Form

Talks to end the insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces have repeatedly encountered obstacles, including the main rebel organisation’s abstention from the current round. With a new Thai official taking charge, and inviting that group to rejoin, both parties should drop objections that have hindered progress.

Q&A / Asia

Behind the Insurgent Attack in Southern Thailand

On 5 November, insurgents in southern Thailand staged their deadliest attack in years, killing fifteen people. Crisis Group’s South East Asia Senior Analyst, Matt Wheeler, explains what happened and what it means for the stagnant peace-dialogue process.

Report / Asia

Jihadism in Southern Thailand: A Phantom Menace

Thailand’s Malay-Muslim insurgency appears to some observers a potential seedbed for transnational jihadism, but the separatist fronts do not share ideologies or objectives with ISIS or al-Qaeda. The future is uncertain, and a resolution of the conflict, based on political decentralisation, could help deter prospective jihadist expansion in southernmost Thailand.

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.

Our People

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
mattzwheeler