Tuesday, March 20, 2007

THAILAND: More Proof That Appeasement Just Invites More Terror

CT: 6 Months After the Thai Coup, Islamist Insurgency is Raging
Last week a group of militants in southern Thailand threw a small bomb in front of a small passenger van, disabling it, opened the side door, and shot all nine passengers, including three women and a young girl, execution style. Though several suspects have been arrested, the attack was reminiscent of the savagery of Algeria or Kashmir, and portends a bloody year in the restive south. The attack was also the latest in a string of more audacious and provocative attacks from Muslim insurgents.

Few realize the extent of the conflict in the south. So many have bought into the Thai government’s complacency and general sense of denial. The conflict in southern Thailand dwarfs any other conflict in Southeast Asia. ... More than 2,100 people have been killed in 38 months, and the government has proven completely incapable of responding to the situation and stemming the violence. That has given the insurgents considerable momentum, and caused a greater number of moderate Muslim civilians to be more supportive of the insurgents. ...

While the justification and rationale for the coup is still debated, people across the political spectrum placed considerable hope that the Council on National Security (CNS) and the government that they installed would do a better job than the Thaksin administration in stemming the violence.

Yet, the exact opposite has been true: the daily average rate of killing has more than tripled in the past six months, from 1.6 people a day in 2006 to almost four per day. Over 400 people, roughly 19 percent of the 2,100 people killed since January 2004 have died since the coup. Attacks have become more sophisticated and coordinated. Sadly the junta leaders remain oblivious to the reality on the ground and show precious little resolve in dealing with the insurgency, they remain mired in petty political squabbles in Bangkok and blind to the reports from their field commanders.

Besides the dramatic escalation in the number of people killed, there have been six discernable trends since the coup.

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