Thailand: Chasing Smoke

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December31, 2008: The UFDAP (United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship) has halted its blockade of the parliament, and called for its followers to enjoy the five day New Years holiday, and maybe resume demonstrations after that. The economic recession has overshadowed the struggle between the urban royalist minority and the entrepreneurs and their rural majority. The revolution will resume after the next national elections.

Meanwhile, the counter-terror campaign in the Moslem south continues to grind down the Islamic radicals. Police and army officials have concluded that there is no one organization leading the violence in the south. The central element in all the anti-Thai ethnic and religious violence is the media, including the Internet. As happened elsewhere in the Islamic world, the media coverage of Islamic radicalism got a lot of young Moslems thinking about using violence to right real or imaginary wrongs. Combining this with the traditional smuggling gangs (and the outlaw culture they have long represented to the youth of the area), produced several years of Islamic terrorism. Oddly enough, efforts by foreign Moslems to help out have not gone well. The Thai Moslems are a very insular bunch, and hostile to all outsiders, even many Malay Moslems from just across the border. This hostility to outsiders made it difficult for the police to gain inside information about the terrorist groups. Difficult, but not impossible. It just took longer. But what the cops found out was discouraging, as it meant that numerous separate groups, gangs and factions would have to be hunted down and shut down. Further complicating the situation was the spontaneous exit from Islamic terrorism activities for some groups. There was usually not press release announcing which group was exiting the terrorism scene, leaving the cops chasing Islamic terrorists who no longer existed. The biggest asset the police have is the growing popular hostility for the Islamic radicals among the Moslem population. The Islamic terrorists have no long range plan beyond chasing the Thai government out and establishing some kind religious dictatorship. The lack of unity among the Islamic militant groups does not help them either.

December 26, 2008: In response to the recent coup, the majority parties, which are now illegal, have formed a new group, the UFDAP (United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship). Emulating the anti-democracy groups, who wore the royalist color yellow as they occupied government buildings and airports to bring the government down, thousands of UFDAP demonstrators are wearing red and surrounding parliament and attempting to shut down the new royalist government.

December 17, 2008: The eight day occupation of the major airports by anti-democracy demonstrators delivered a major hit to the tourist industry (which accounts for about six percent of GDP). More than half the tourist traffic has disappeared, and it will take a year or more of good behavior to regain the lost business.

 

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