Thailand: Payback Time

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April 6, 2010:  Over 50,000 determined populist red shirt demonstrators are spreading their sit down demonstrations, which are paralyzing the capital, to more areas. Currently, they have blocked traffic in the high-end shopping district, and the luxury hotel neighborhood. The red shirts are threatening to shut down ten or more additional neighborhoods, but have held back in anticipation of the government deciding to call new elections. But the other alternative, the government using force to try and clear the demonstrators, and risk a civil war, is still in play. The army has moved 47,000 troops into the capital, to help with crowd control. But many of the soldiers are populists, and sympathetic with the red shirts. Thus any attempt to use force, might result in desertions and mutiny in army units. There have already been incidents of army units spontaneously (and often against the orders of their officers) backing away from advancing red shirts.

The populist mobs have been operating in the capital for three weeks now, and sense victory. The government has backed away from using force, and the red shirts have been much encouraged by that. As long as the government doesn't start killing people, the royalists currently in control would probably survive losing new elections. And the royalists are pretty sure they would lose to the more numerous populists, who are now enraged over the events of the last few years, which include a royalist coup and rigged elections. Payback time appears right around the corner.

There have been over a dozen grenade attacks against government targets in the last few weeks. These are widely believed to have been staged by the secret police, to make it look like red shirts were turning to terrorism.  There have been several dozen wounded, but no deaths.

In the south, there continues to be several incidents of Islamic terrorist violence each week. The shootings and tossed grenades are being overshadowed by the increasing use of roadside bombs. These devices are not as numerous, powerful or well hidden as those found in Iraq and Afghanistan. The roadside bombs represent acknowledgement by the rebels that they are on the defensive. Every week or so, the police find another Islamic terrorist camp, or weapons cache. More and more Islamic radicals are being arrested. The Islamic radicals are losing ground, and are trying to use roadside bombs to slow the process.

April 5, 2010: Two people on a motorcycle, drove past a TV station in the capital, threw a hand grenade at the station, but the aim was off, and the grenade landed in an adjacent canal.

April 3, 2010: Red Shirt demonstrators occupied two key intersections in the capital, and realized that the government lacked the nerve to use force. The government feared more violence, and more red shirt demonstrators, if an attempt was made to move back the demonstrators by force, or arrest the red shirt leaders.

April 2, 2010: In the south, police found a hidden weapons storage site near an abandoned Islamic radical camp. Elsewhere in the south, police found a truck, six dead Buddhist hunters and a recently shot, 220 pound wild boar.  After the death scene was found, a police vehicle from a nearby police station was hit by a roadside bomb.

April 1, 2010: After a week of fruitless talks, including several hours of televised debate, between government and red shirt leaders, the populist rebels have decided to call for more disruptive demonstrations.

March 27, 2010:  In the capital, red shirt demonstrators surrounded the prime minister's office compound.

March 20, 2010: Over 100,000 red shirt protesters entered the capital, with a vague plan to shut down the city.

March 18, 2010: In the south, the government has undertaken a program to improve the morale of the police stationed there. These cops have taken the brunt of the violence and stress encountered while fighting the Islamic terror campaign. Thus the government is improving housing, pay and promotions for policemen in the south.

 

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