After a month of rural unrest, with as many as 12,000 farmers out blocking roads, the government has given into demands that crop subsidies be restored and that will cost the government $681 million this year. These subsidies were given out in good times and are very difficult to halt when the budget can’t support them anymore. The government has its hands full with Islamic terrorists in the south without another uprising in the north. The month of protests left several people dead and several hundred wounded. There is a similar problem with refugees. Foreign aid groups have had to cut food supplies to 120,000 Burmese refugees who have been living in Thailand since the 1990s. Most of the Burmese refugees live in refugee camps near the border and in two decades there, many have become economically self-sufficient. But they still expect the foreign aid food, and the only thing that keeps them from taking to the streets is the fact that Thailand does not pay for the food (foreign donors do) and Thailand threatens to ship any troublesome refugees back to Burma. Foreign donor nations are getting more requests but are unwilling to spend more money on aid.
The peace talks, which began on March 28, are stalled and have split the Moslem separatists in the south. This has led to attacks against pro-peace Islamic leaders. This is bad news for the criminal gangs that have supported the Islamic radical groups because the continued heavy police activity in the south is bad for business if you are a smuggler (the primary source of income for the Moslem gangs). The army makes no secret of its refusal to consider withdrawing troops from the south, which several Islamic terror groups are demanding as a precondition for more negotiations. Peace talks may not end the Islamic terrorism in the south, but infighting among the terrorists and continued military pressure certainly reduces it. Separatist movements in the region have collapsed like this before and it looks like, once more, history is repeating itself. There are more terrorist attacks on Moslems, especially Moslem leaders and Moslem government workers. This is meant to intimidate local Moslems into cooperating with the terrorists, and in some cases that is what happens. But more frequently it turns more Moslems against the terrorists. What began as a separatist rebellion against the Thai government has evolved into a civil war within the southern Moslem community. While some (less than ten percent) of the “terrorist” killings may be Buddhists taking unofficial (unauthorized and illegal) revenge, the majority are Moslems killing Moslems. The peace talks are stalled over the issue of how much autonomy the south would get.
September 18, 2013: A court sentenced a Lebanese man (Atris Hussein) to 32 months in prison for illegal possession of explosives. This all began nearly two years ago. Israeli and American intelligence warned their Thai counterparts in late 2011 that an Islamic terrorist cell was in Thailand and planning a bombing there in early 2012. Subsequently, Thai police arrested a Lebanese man, associated with Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, who was traveling on a Swedish passport. The man had moved to Sweden in 1991, but returned to Lebanon in 2003 for 3 years. A second man was identified but he had already left the country. Police then found 4 tons of explosives owned by the Hezbollah man they had in custody. Atris Hussein admitted that an attack was planned in Thailand but was aborted when the Thai government began hunting for the two Hezbollah men. He later said he was being framed by Israeli agents.
September 14, 2013: In the south a roadside bomb killed 2 soldiers and wounded 4 others.
September 11, 2013: In the south Islamic terrorists ambushed and killed 5 policemen who were investigating terrorist organizations down there.
September 10, 2013: In the south a bomb went off at a school, killing 2 soldiers and wounding a child.
September 9, 2013: Thai and Indonesian naval personnel began 9 days of joint exercises in Indonesia.