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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

Personnel changes, and Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad’s late-Oct visit to Bangkok, spurred media speculation about new momentum in moribund peace dialogue between Thailand and Mara Patani, umbrella group of Malay-Muslim separatist fronts (Malaysia serves as dialogue facilitator), however no specific initiatives or date for resuming talks were announced, and violence in deep south continued. Retired General Udomchai Thammasaroraj was appointed head of Thailand’s peace-dialogue delegation, and Lt General Pornsak Poonsawat replaced newly retired Lt General Piyawat Nakwanich as commander of Fourth Army Region. Mara Patani mid-Oct told media that it had been joined by three unspecified Patani-Malay nationalist groups; also said Mara Patani would submit new proposal for dialogue following Thai general election expected before May 2019. Main militant group, Barisan Revolusi Nasional Patani Melayu (BRN), in late Oct media interviews reiterated position that group is willing to engage in dialogue under condition that process is between Bangkok and BRN. Several killed including civilians in militant violence in deep south. Ahead of general election, political activity gathering pace despite junta’s ban on political campaigning. Electoral Commission considering investigating pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Pheu Thai Party for breaching election law, which could result in party’s dissolution. New pro-regime party, Palang Pracharat Party, late Sept announced that three senior executive members are sitting cabinet members; junta said they are not obliged to resign, but many politicians voiced objections to conflict of interest.

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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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