Thailand: Recession Reins In Violence

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June 6, 2009: Another victim of the recession is the air force, which will have to wait a few years to get the six new jet fighters it wanted. Six Gripens are already on order, for delivery in two years, but the second six will have to wait at least a few more years.

Back in 2007, the air force, by virtue of their being part of a military dictatorship then running the government, got authority to spend $1.1 billion over the next decade to buy twelve Swedish JAS 39C/D ("Gripen") jet fighters, and two AEW (airborne radar) aircraft. The JAS 39s were to replace a squadron of 14 elderly (1970s) U.S. F-5 fighters. The air force wanted F-16s (to complement the 59 already on hand), but the U.S. refused, because the military had recently tossed out the elected government and established a dictatorship.

The budget cuts are also delaying the planned purchase of 89 armored vehicles from Ukraine. Meanwhile, the army is increasing some spending. About $26 million will be spent for more riot gear. The shrinking economy (down 7.1 percent last quarter, versus 4.2 percent the previous quarter) is grabbing the attention of politicians, as well as soldiers. The Red Shirts (populists) and Yellow Shirts (royalists) are still out there, but for the moment the royalists, with the support of a minority of the population, control the government. This is not a stable situation.

June 5, 2009:  In a flare up of violence in the Moslem south, five people were killed in four attacks. Following the trend, more of these attacks are against Moslems, as the Islamic terrorists have been losing the support of the Moslem majority (about 80 percent) in the south. The terrorists are using more roadside bombs, and continue with drive by shootings and threats against civilians.

 

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