Thailand: Grinding The Bastards Down

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December 18, 2011: The Islamic terrorism in the south continues. Last month there were 67 terror attacks, leaving 41 dead (66 percent of them civilians and 19 percent civil servants). In the last seven years, there have been 11,000 terrorist attacks, leaving nearly 5,000 people dead. Last month, 45 percent of the attacks were drive by (often on motorcycle) shootings and 37 percent bombings.

Government counter-terror efforts have been successful but slow to completely eradicate the religious and ethnic violence. A combination of force (thousands of additional police and troops), economic aid (to reduce unemployment), and political negotiation (to gain the cooperation of more moderate Islamic leaders) has cut support for the Islamic terrorists (who are allied with gangsters, mainly smugglers). What turns off most of the two million Moslems (largely ethnic Malays) in the three southern provinces (conquered by Thailand in 1909) is that nothing good has come from seven years of Islamic terrorism. The ethnic (mostly Buddhist) Thais still control the three provinces and the Islamic terrorists are increasingly killing Moslems (to prevent cooperation with the police), not Buddhists. Thus the government is, village by village, turning the locals against the Islamic terrorist gangs. But at the rate this is going, it could be another decade before the Islamic terrorist activity is gone from the south.

The border dispute with Cambodia remains unsettled but both countries have agreed to continue negotiations. The 800 kilometer Thai-Cambodian border has never been precisely defined over the thousand years it has existed. The current negotiations are an attempt to finally settle the matter and get all the troops withdrawn from the most disputed bits of frontier territory.

The U.S. Navy has approached Thailand about stationing some American warships in Thailand. This is part of a new American strategy to deal with expanding Chinese naval power. China is asserting control over most of the South China Sea, staking claim on waters long controlled by other nations (Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan). There are also maritime disputes with South Korea and Japan. The U.S. has responded by redeploying naval forces to more nations in the region and working out joint defense plans against China. Thailand has no land or maritime borders with China but has always sought to maintain good relations with this regional (and increasingly international) superpower. But, like Singapore (which may also become a base for some American warships), Thailand wants to keep its options open. Most of the Thailand's trade is with the West.

December 16, 2011: Police found and defused six crudely made bombs in the capital. The suspected bomb maker was found and arrested.

December 15, 2011: The navy has purchased at least five SeaFox mine hunting systems. Looking like wire-guided torpedoes, SeaFox uses sonar and video cameras to locate and identify underwater mines and then detonates explosives to destroy the mines.

December 13, 2011: On the Cambodian border a decades old anti-vehicle mine was discovered and as soldiers sought to disarm it, the mine exploded. Three soldiers were killed. Thousands of mines are still on the border, most of them placed there in the 1970s and then lost track of.

December 10, 2011: China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand began their joint police patrols on the Mekong River (which flows through all four countries). There has been an increase in attacks on Mekong river shipping, sometimes involving corrupt soldiers or police. So the security personnel from all four countries will keep an eye on each other. A major problem these days is drug smuggling out of Burma. The drugs are valuable, illegal, and very portable.

December 8, 2011: In the south, four Islamic terrorists on two motorcycles killed a political party leader. But while the attackers escaped, they were fired on by local defense forces, killing the two shooters. The dead attackers were wanted men, having been involved in kidnappings and murders over the last five years. 

 

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