Thailand: Death To Infidels

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September 21, 2010: In response to a recent surge of attacks against teachers in the Moslem south, the government has raised the pay of teachers there and improved security as well. In the last six years, 137 school personnel, mostly teachers, have been killed in the south, and several hundred injured. The Islamic radicals oppose secular education, and especially education for girls. Overall, about 4,200 have died in the violence. The Islamic separatists want to drive all infidels (non-Moslems) out of the two southernmost provinces. Violence is down, but there are still several attacks a week. Police have managed to get a sense of what they are up against. The core of the violence is a centuries old antipathy between Buddhist Thais and Moslem Malays. The two provinces in the south used to be an independent Moslem sultanate, until absorbed by Thailand a century ago. It was never a good fit. The Malays were not as ambitious, economically, as the Thais, and fell behind as the rest of the country industrialized and prospered. One thriving industry in the south was smuggling, especially drugs and guns. This provided a lucrative connection with Thai gangs to the north. Add to this the Islamic radicalism which has become so fashionable among young Moslems (especially those with little education and poor job prospects) in the last few decades, and you have yet another movement to expel non-Moslems from the south (who are resented for being better educated, more prosperous and, in general, different) and become an independent nation again. Thailand will never let that happen, and is determined to grind down the gangs and Islamic militants, which it has been doing for the past few years. In response, the attacks have increasingly been directed at local Moslems, who have been more frequently supporting government efforts to calm things down.

The Islamic terrorists down south are trying to use roadside bombs to intimidate the security forces. But not enough of these devices have been employed to have that effect. This indicates that few of the southern terrorists have the skills or resources to make and place these weapons. The government has released some data on the size of the Islamic radical movement down there. It is believed that there are 9,400 people in the south (out of a population of two million) participating in Islamic terrorism. Of these, 16 percent are leaders or nearly full time terrorists. Another 29 percent can be depended on to carry out attacks or actively support them. The remaining 55 percent are "supporters" who provide shelter and other material support (including information on what the police are up to.) The government apparently deduced these numbers from interrogations of several hundred Islamic radicals it has arrested, plus interviews with associates, friends and family of hundreds of dead terrorists.

September 20, 2010: The Thai and Singapore navies began several days of exercises. Thailand and Singapore have long been military allies, being two non-Moslem (and non-Malay) states in a very Islamic (and Malay) neighborhood. Malaysia, the southern Philippines and Indonesia are all Islamic and Malay, while Thailand is largely ethnic Thai and Buddhist while Singapore is largely ethnic Chinese and non-Moslem religions.

September 19, 2010: Demonstrations to commemorate resistance to the 2006 coup drew about twice as many protestors as organizers expected. There was not a lot of violence and police showed restraint. But this did send a message to the government that the populists are still a majority and still want control of the government back.

In the Moslem south, five Buddhists were killed in the last two days, in a resurgence of Islamic terrorist violence.

September 12, 2010:  Four bombs were found, and one went off, in the capital and elsewhere around the countries. The populist "red shirts" are believed responsible, seeking to commemorate the 2006 coup that removed the popularly elected government.

 

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