Thailand: Religious War Developing In The South

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May 13,2008: In the south, the Islamic terrorists have increasingly found themselves in the midst of a religious war of their own creation. Buddhist irregulars, and moonlighting soldiers and police, are attacking mosques and suspected Islamic militants. Vigilantes and death squads are a staple of Thai culture, at least when there is a lot of civil disorder. The Buddhist minority in the south is fighting for its survival, and a large faction of the security forces are willing to do anything to destroy the Islamic militants.

A recent opinion poll showed that a little over half the population expects another military coup in the next year. The military, aristocracy, and the educated urban population, are a large minority, and are not happy with the recent governments, led by politicians who have mobilized the votes of the poor and the rural population. That led to the last coup, and may lead to another.

In Myanmar, only about ten percent of the two million victims of the May 3rd cyclone have received any aid. The death toll is expected to rise due to a lack of medical and food aid. The government is now accepting aid, but not foreign aid workers. The government does not have the disaster experts and resources (especially helicopters) to get the food and medical supplies to cyclone victims quickly.

May 9, 2008: Police busted a major false identity operation, seizing 21,000 fake passports (largely for France, Suriname, Norway, Belgium, Italy and Myanmar), in various states of completion. A dozen arrests were made, most of them men from Burma. Some members of the gang were also involved in drug smuggling and gun running (to Sri Lankan rebels).

May 3, 2008: A major cyclone hit Myanmar (Burma), killing up to 100,000 and destroying the homes and livelihoods of several million. The military government refused to let foreign aid workers in, noting that the NGOs that handle most disaster relief tend to be politically active and adroit at manipulating the media. The Burmese generals have run the country for over half a century using a combination of terror (to their enemies) and generosity (to their supporters). Most of the nation has become impoverished as a result and unrest has grown. The Burmese generals fear an uprising more than more human suffering in the Irrawaddy River Delta, where most of the cyclone damage took place.

 

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