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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

Early June saw spike in killings in southernmost provinces during latter half of Ramadan, in keeping with pattern of violence during Ramadan over past decade. Pattani Islamic Committee Deputy Chair Aduldej Chenae died after being shot in Saiburi district 8 June; victim was involved in establishment of coordination centre for prospective safety zone, a confidence-building measure in ongoing peace dialogue process. Spate of shootings targeted Muslim men allegedly involved in illegal drugs trade late May and early June. National Security Council chief General Wanlop Raksanor 18 June said peace dialogue process will pause pending decision from new Malaysian govt on whether to continue as facilitator of process. Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad 25 June told reporters Malaysia would continue as facilitator, offered no details. Govt 20 June lifted emergency decree in Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat, third of 36 deep south districts to have it lifted. PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha 19 June introduced new source of uncertainty about timing of general election promised for Feb 2019, saying it will only take place after coronation of King Rama X, which has not yet been announced; deputy PM 25 June said it could be as late as 5 May 2019, and partial lifting of ban on political activity possible in Sept. Crown Property Bureau mid-June assigned direct responsibility for its assets, estimated at more than $30bn, to King Rama X. Constitution Court 5 June ruled on suit filed by Democrat Party, upholding legality of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 53/2560 which prohibits political party activities without NCPO permission.

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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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