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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

Unchanged Situation

Domestic political tensions increased as Electoral Commission (EC) recommended constitutional court dissolve opposition Future Forward Party (FFP), whose leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit stepped up calls for public protests, while militant attacks in deep south continued at relatively low level. Junta-appointed EC 11 Dec recommended constitutional court dissolve FFP for $6.3mn loan from Thanathorn to FFP during general election which it said violated law against parties accepting cash “from illegitimate sources”. Thanathorn 11 Dec called for supporters to take to streets in Bangkok in opposition to govt; several thousand people demonstrated next day in largest public protest since 2014 coup; Thanathorn pledged larger protests beginning Jan. Constitutional Court 25 Dec accepted EC request to rule on FFP loan case, as well as sedition case against Thanathorn; decisions expected 21 Jan. Violence continued in deep south. In Sungai Padi district, Narathiwat province, militants 27 Nov bombed section of railway track; no casualties. In Saiburi district, Pattani province, gunmen 1 Dec shot dead Muslim woman travelling with her child on motorcycle, and 12 Dec fired on ranger base, causing no casualties. In Thepha, Songkhla province, IED wounded five police 12 Dec. Paramilitary rangers mistakenly killed three civilians 16 Dec in Rangae district, Narathiwat; two rangers charged with murder 20 Dec. Benar News 2 Dec reported meeting between Thai officials and Barisan Revolusi Nasional in German capital, according to source from Malaysian team facilitating moribund peace dialogue between Bangkok and MARA Patani, who said Malaysia not informed of Berlin meeting and did not “recognize” it.

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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.

Commentary / Asia

Thailand: Malay-Muslim Insurgency and the Dangers of Intractability

The Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency in Thailand’s South has little in common with jihadism, but persistent instability could provide openings for foreign jihadists who thrive on  disorder. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Second Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to encourage Bangkok to accept some degree of decentralisation and to implement measures that can diminish radicalisation.

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