Thailand: Reliable Soldiers In Short Supply


April 22, 2010: Over a month of red shirt activity in the capital has hurt the economy, and made life uncomfortable for city residents. This has mobilized the many royalist yellow shirt activists, who are starting to hit the streets to demonstrate for the government, and chase the red shirts out. The government has offered to negotiate, and some red shirt leaders seem willing to try that. But for this to happen, the red shirts will have to release their hold on three square kilometers of the city, where top hotels and shops are, and stop all their "instant demonstrations". The government believes they have withstood everything the red shirts could throw at them, and have won.  The red shirts are discouraged that they have not forced new elections.

The army believes they have a good sense of which units they can depend on to fire on the red shirts, and the government is threatening to use these units to disperse the red shirts by force. The army has been using these trusted units to confront groups of red shirts in the capital, and force the demonstrators to stay out of key neighborhoods. But now that red shirt groups are active out in the countryside, especially the north (where red shirts are very strong), the government has to be careful not to trigger a civil war or guerilla war by the growing number of active red shirts. In the northeast, thousands of red shirts are holding nightly rallies in the major cities. Yet with all this, the red shirts have not been as disruptive as the yellow shirts were two years ago, when major airports were occupied and shut down.

A month of unrest, first in the capital and now spreading, has cut tourist arrivals by more than half. The stock market is slumping and all this is hurting recovery from the global recession. But many of the red shirts come from the northeast, an agricultural area that has been suffering from drought.

April 21, 2010: In the south, Islamic terrorists killed three Moslem men who were supporting the government. Elsewhere in the south, a grenade was thrown at some policemen, killing one of them. Islamic terrorists also tried to use a car bomb to attack police, but this failed.

April 20, 2010:  In the northeast, where red shirts are very strong, a group of red shirts halted a train carrying military equipment, and took prisoner 230 soldiers on the train. It was announced that the soldiers would be released after five days.

April 18, 2010: Red shirts have fortified a shopping center in the capital, in effect making it their main base.

April 17, 2010: On the disputed sector of the Cambodian border, Thai and Cambodian troops exchanged fire for fifteen minutes, but no one was hurt. The Cambodians say a Thai patrol encountered some Cambodian troops and opened fire. The Thais say they found Cambodian troops leading Cambodian civilians into part of the disputed border area, in order to build a village. The Thai troops fired warning shots when the Cambodians failed to halt. Two years of negotiations over where the disputed border should be continue to go nowhere.

The red shirt leaders said they would surrender, and halt demonstrations in the capital, next month. While this brings some relief to government officials, there is still a lot of pressure on officials to make the red shirts go away now.

April 16, 2010: The government has given the commander of the armed forces more authority (control over more intelligence and security organizations) to deal with the red shirt threat.  The army leadership has to worry about some officers, and many of the conscript troops, being sympathetic to the red shirts. So officers, and units, deemed most unreliable are being kept away from red shirts, and more dependable troops used to confront the protesters. That still leaves the army divided, but at least the high command has a better idea of who they can depend on.

Commandos tried to capture key red shirt leaders, but these men escaped by using ropes to climb down from their hotel rooms. This was a big embarrassment for the government, and a big boost for the red shirts. But as a result of this raid, the red shirt leaders were provided with better security (more bodyguards).

April 14, 2010: Red shirts have again taken over the more upscale portions of the capital, and, in effect, dared the security forces to try and get them out.

April 12, 2010: The head of the army has called for new elections, basically giving the red shorts what they wanted, in order to end the unrest. The politicians, faced with being voted out (as the red shirts represent a majority of the population), refused.

April 11, 2010: The army blamed the red shirts for yesterdays violence, but nearly all the victims were red shirts. So it's the red shirts who are energized, and now threaten to shut down army bases.

April 10, 2010: Police and soldiers attempted to disperse red shirts from their main encampment, and failed. At least 25 people were killed and over 800 wounded. This was a big win for the red shirts.

April 9, 2010: In the south, Islamic terrorists on a motorcycle fired on two Moslem village leaders, wounding them. But one of the victims pulled a pistol and fired, forcing the attackers to abandon their motorcycle and flee on foot.

Some 90 kilometers north of the capital, red shirts chased soldiers away from a satellite TV station, and put it back on the air, gaining themselves some useful publicity.

April 8, 2010: The government has issued arrest warrants for 36 red shirt leaders, as a response to the recent red shirt demonstration inside the parliament compound. The red shirts have shown that they can go just about anywhere they want, and this has upset government officials greatly.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close