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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

Deteriorated Situation

Violence in deep south escalated since late Dec with militants attacking symbolic and soft targets, including, for first time in years, Buddhist monks. Militants 8 Jan lynched retired Buddhist teacher in Saba Yoi district, Songkhla, and used victim’s truck as vehicle-borne IED, wounding two soldiers; defence minister blamed main Malay-Muslim separatist organisation Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN). Bomb in Yarang district, Pattani, same day targeted teacher-protection unit, wounding police officer and twelve-year-old girl. Militants 10 Jan killed four Muslim defence volunteers outside school in Yarang district, Pattani. Gunmen shot dead imam in Rueso district, Narathiwat province 11 Jan. Two insurgents killed in gun battle with security forces in Yaring district, Pattani, 12 Jan; one ranger and eight-year-old girl wounded. Six militants on motorcycles attacked police station in Khok Poh district, Pattani province 13 Jan, killing police officer. Security forces 18 Jan killed insurgent suspect in Chanea district, Narathiwat. Insurgents same day detonated two bombs in Pattani, wounding five soldiers and two police. Also on 18 Jan, militants attacked Buddhist temple in Sungai Padi, killing two monks. Three police and three civilians wounded in 25 Jan bombing in Krong Pinang, Pattani. Chief of Thailand’s peace-dialogue delegation 4 Jan met with Malaysian facilitator to discuss new framework for talks with BRN. BRN released video and statement dated 4 Jan marking fifteen-year anniversary of renewed insurgency, saying peace possible only if govt is sincere. Chief of delegation 11 Jan said govt would study political decentralisation as possible component of resolution. Royal decree published 23 Jan ordered general election, which Election Commission announced will take place 24 March; announcements calmed rising tensions and some protests after junta mid-Jan said previously promised 24 Feb election would not take place.

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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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