Thailand: Power To The People

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February 28, 2009: The mob war continues in the capital. The democrats, who represent a majority of the voters,  brought tens of thousands of red-shirt wearing demonstrators into the capital. The army has openly vowed to stay out of this shoving contest. The red shirted democrats held their demonstrations, and then left. Since the majority of voters live outside the capital, the red-shirts are far from home and unable to maintain a sustained presence like the royalist yellow-shirt wearing mobs. The democrats have to trek in from the countryside, and are, in effect, in enemy territory. But that has resonance as well, for the majority still feel the centuries of domination and misrule by the urban overlords. Those with a lot of money, education and royal connections, are still a minority, but they are not yet comfortable with allowing the majority to rule. In typically Thai fashion, the conflict is not fought out directly, but as more of a shoving or shouting match. No one wants a full out war, that would leave many dead, and the economy in ruins. But both sides want to win.

The Islamic terrorist violence in the south is increasingly being directed at local Moslems, at least those the Islamic terrorists suspect of cooperating with the government. That often includes the majority of people in many villages and neighborhoods. The Islamic radicals don't offer much for the local Moslems, at least in practical terms. Killing teachers and interfering with government services (which the southern Moslems want more of) has turned more southern Moslems against the Islamic radicals, who, in turn, have become more savage in their attempts to control the population. Killing women and children and beheading people is meant to terrorize, but the fear is not working as well as the terrorists had hoped. The government has the advantage now. The way the Thais operate, the government will now grind down the Islamic radicals for as long as it takes. The long term problem is changing the attitudes (towards education and economic activity) in the south. The area has long been the poorest in the country because there was little desire to educate the kids and start businesses. That has been changing, and is one reason the Islamic radicals became active. The other reason is that these changes also threaten the power of religious leaders and criminal gangs. These two have formed an unholy alliance to back Islamic terrorism, and try to halt the social and economic changes most Thai Moslems buy into. The war in the south isn't against the Thai government, it's against economic and educational progress, and changes in how much power ordinary people have.

February 14, 2009: On the Myanmar border, Myanmar accused Karen tribal rebels of firing two mortar shells into Thailand. There were no injuries, or any explanation why the shells were fired. The Karen often flee across the border into Thailand when Myanmar military operations become too intense. The rebels also smuggle weapons in from Thailand, and don't want to antagonize the Thais.

February 12, 2009: In the south, a roadside bomb killed three policemen and wounded one. The police vehicle was returning from teacher escort duty. Because teachers, who are often non-Moslems from the north, are frequent targets of terrorist attacks, they get police escorts to and from school. The Islamic terrorists believe the only suitable schools are religious, where study of Islam is the primary subject. Such Islamic schools in Thailand and nearby Malaysia, have been a primary source of Islamic terrorists.

 

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