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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

Govt linked late Nov discovery of weapons cache in field outside Bangkok to alleged conspiracies to launch political violence; Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan and Army Chief General Chalermchai Sitthisat 5 Dec stated that under circumstances, not right time to lift political activities ban. Democrat Party spokesman Wirat Kalayasiri accused regime of using cache as “excuse to delay elections”. Prawit on defensive after photos surfaced showing him wearing expensive watches and jewellery that do not appear on his assets disclosure form. Regime continued to harass its critics, bringing sedition charges against former Pheu Thai Party spokesperson Lieutenant Sunisa Loetphakhawat for critical Facebook posts. EU 11 Dec agreed to restore “political contacts at all levels” with coup-installed regime, having suspended normal relations after army seized power in May 2014; said change was “to facilitate meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual importance, including on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the road toward democracy”; added that negotiations for free trade agreement will resume only after political rights are restored and “democratically elected civilian government” returned to power. Regime officials and supporters hailed move as EU endorsement of “special situation” in Thailand. Heavy rains and flooding in many parts of deep south contributed to lull in insurgent attacks. Attacks on 25 Dec, including bombings of electricity pylons, led to blackouts in parts of Yala and Pattani. Royal Gazette 28 Nov announced extension of Internal Security Act (ISA) in parts of Pattani and Songkhla provinces for another year; in force for almost ten years, ISA gives officials authority to ban anyone from entering areas declared off-limits and prohibit people from leaving their property.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

Analyst, South East Asia
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