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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

Month saw several small bomb attacks near and in Bangkok, while insurgent attacks continued in deep south. Coinciding with ASEAN foreign minister’s meeting in Bangkok 29 July-3 Aug, six small bombs and six incendiary devices detonated 2 Aug in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, injuring four; two IEDs failed to detonate; seven suspects arrested by 9 Aug, police warrants for seven others still at large issued by 20 Aug. One IED exploded 4 Aug in Nonthaburi, no injuries reported. Political controversy continued following PM Prayuth 16 July omitting sentence from constitutionally required oath that directs cabinet to uphold the constitution. PM Prayuth 8 Aug pledged to take “full responsibility” and said matter of legitimacy of cabinet and constitutionality of govt should be decided by Constitutional Court (CC); Ombudsman’s office 27 Aug referred matter to CC. Criminal court 14 Aug exonerated 24 defendants from United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship group, commonly called Red Shirts, including leaders Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikua, over 2010 protests, declaring it political rather than terrorist activity. During 17 Aug interview with Reuters, alleged Barisan Revolusi Nasional Patani Melayu leader said militant group and govt representatives met for preliminary talks 16 Aug; General Udomchai Thamasarorat, head of govt’s peace-dialogue delegation, declined to confirm report. Suspected insurgent detainee Abdulloh Esormusor, who lapsed into coma following interrogation after his arrest 20 July, died 25 Aug. Violence continued in deep south; three bombs exploded in Pattani province 4 Aug, no casualties reported. Unknown gunmen 8 Aug killed former militant leader Abdultore Kaso in Thepha district. Bomb blasts injured seven people across four Yala districts 21 Aug. Suspected insurgents 25 Aug robbed a gold shop in Na Thawi district Songkhla of $2.5 million in valuables.

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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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