September 12, 2006:
In Thailand, there appear to be rifts between head of the army, Sonthi Bunruang, the first Thai Moslem to hold that post, and some senior government officials, over his approach to dealing with the Islamist insurgency in the country's south. Some officials have been publicly critical of Sonthi's willingness to reach out to moderate Moslems, in an attempt to get legitimate grievances aired and addressed, and thus isolate the more radical elements. But the issues between Sonthi and his critics may have different roots. When the general took office, he cleaned house, sweeping a lot of dead wood out of important posts and replacing them with younger, and more competent, personnel. Apparently this ticked off some senior military and political officials, who'd been stashing their inept relatives, old comrades, and political cronies in the military bureaucracy. How this will work out may have a profound effect on the war with Islamic terrorists in the south. Being both Moslem and competent. Sonthi is currently the best hope for solving the problems down there. But he may be brought down first by the Old Boys network, who simply do not approve of the generals efforts to be effective at the expense of the wrong people.