Thailand: The War On Tourism

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March 20,2008: A recent business survey found Thailand to be the second most corrupt country (after the Philippines) in the region. This explains why notorious Russian gunrunner Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand two weeks ago. Bout had come to Thailand, to arrange arms shipments to FARC rebels in Colombia, safe in the knowledge that Thai police looked the other way at people like him, as long as he spent lots of money and stayed out of trouble while in Thailand. But U.S. agents had pretended to be from FARC, and had set up a sting. The Thai officials were taken care of (with cash or favors, it's unclear, but arrangements were made to prevent Bout from promptly bribing his way out of jail). Now Bout has brought in more cash and lawyers, and is resisting U.S. attempts to extradite the arms merchant to the U.S.

March 18, 2008: In the south, someone threw a grenade into a mosque, wounding two caretakers. The Islamic terrorists are increasingly attacking Moslem clerics and government officials. Three years of Islamic terrorism have done nothing for the Moslem population down south, and the terrorists are losing whatever popularity they had.

March 16, 2008: In the south, a bomb went off in the parking lot of a hotel, killing two and wounding 16. The hotel was popular with visiting journalists and government officials. The Islamic terrorists are the chief suspects, as they have been complaining of poor treatment in the media. The attack on the hotel was one of the few acts of violence against foreign tourists. Until now, foreign governments had not warned their citizens to stay away from the many tourist attractions in the south. Now that has changed, and Moslems in the south who lose their jobs because of the terrorism, will dislike their Islamic "protectors" even more. There has been an increase in tips from Moslem Thais, resulting in more arrests of terrorist suspects.

However, the police, army and government agencies still do not cooperate as much as they could to deal with terrorism in the south. The terrorists take advantage of this disorganization, and many southern leaders are calling for more leadership from the national government.

March 5, 2008: Myanmar border crossings have been closed after Myanmar tribal separatists fired on a Thai ferry carrying Myanmar troops across a river. This has meant UN food supplies are not getting to tribal refugee camps on the Myanmar side of the border. Thailand does not want to get involved with the decades old war between the Myanmar government and tribal separatists.

 

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