15 May 2010

Thai Terror

Is Thailand on the brink of Civil War?

Most of the experts have been saying 'no' to that question. But prospects for the 'Land of Smiles' look increasingly grim: despite Prime Minister Abbhisit's 'Road Map' for peace seeming to allow a face-saving way out for all concerned, some hardline Red Shirts have done all they can to scupper the deal.

Gunfights and explosions have been regular occurrences over the last few days with 16 deaths and more than 140 injuries reported. And the sniper-attack on the renegade army Major General, Khattiya Sawasdipol, can only have hardened the resolve of the more strident Red Shirts.

Finally, it looks like the government has had enough too, and they are attempting to move the red mob out of the up market shopping district of Siam- a district that has been forced to close for more than a month now. It may take some doing though, on a recent trip to Bangkok I had a bit of a look at the area, and the 'Reds' are well equipped with dozens of Portaloos, a booming sound system and stands raising money selling Red regalia. And of course, The Thai love their food and so there was the full range of street food on offer.

So back to the question of whether there will be a Civil War. That, I suppose depends on how you define the term. After all there have been several thousand deaths in the last couple of years in Thailand's restive South. There, Muslim separatists fight a nasty guerilla campaign which, inexplicitly has targeted school teachers for bombings and drive-by shooting. This isn't called a civil war, but once the Reds are finally dispersed such terror campaigns are a real ongoing possibility for Bangkok and especially North and Northeast Thailand- the stronghold of the anti-government protestors.

Thailand: The land of Smiles? Not for a long time Yet.

*Photos: The Bangkok Post

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