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Dossier: The prospects for peace in Thailand’s deep south

by Scott Hickie

The prospects for peace in Thailand’s deep south

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ardently advocates reconciliation and constitutional reform to heal Thailand’s divisive political wounds. But confronting the slow burning Malay Muslim insurgency in the deep south may be a more complicated challenge.

Storified by Open Briefing · Tue, Aug 21 2012 01:59:52

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Captivated bythe colour-coded political firestorms of Bangkok and the tales of ordinary citizens incarcerated under lèse majesté laws foroffending the monarchy,international media finds little time to cover the complex security situationin Thailand’s Malay Muslim deep south provinces. Notwithstanding the fact thatover 5,200 people have been killed and many thousandsmore injured since 2004, the complexity in characterising the insurgency andits continuing, but low level, intensity may contribute to such neglect.

 

Almost eightyears on from the Tak Bai and Krue Ze Mosque incidents in 2004 and a “newnormal” in deep south violence, the opposition Democrat Party leader AbhisitVejjajiva is calling Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to account for thecontinuing and potentially escalating violence in the provinces of Pattani,Yala and Narathiwat and districts within Songkhla.

Censure debate could target PM Yingluck – The Nation5 days ago … Charter amendment, reconciliation and debate on 'rice graft' await MPs. … It would be the first time Prime Min…
The response has been two fold. In addition to a 25% increase in the security budget for the region Shinawatra’s newplan for the deep south, dubbed Pentagon II, is designed to better coordinate government agencies involved in security and service delivery, mark out “safety zones,” and potentially impose curfews on anarea already subject to continuing emergency security laws.
17 ministries to be grouped in 'Pentagon II' plan for South – The Nation4 hours ago … 17 ministries to be grouped in 'Pentagon II' plan for South. A special Cabinet meeting aimed at coping with a s…
Southern crisis: the worse is yet to come – The Nation6 days ago … Southern crisis: the worse is yet to come. Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha spoke his mind at the press conference last …
However, after a two weeks of publicly outlining the Pentagon II plan, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa announced that the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center had started talks with a splinter group from Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), the insurgent group alleged to be behind the recent violence. Months earlier Sasiprapa had ruled out peace talks with insurgents. In addition to the talks, Thai government officials have reached out to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to help develop ideas for peace in the deep south.
Thailand holds peace talks with Muslim insurgents | Reuters2 days ago … BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand said on Thursday talks were under way with members of insurgent groups in the south of the …

While the opening of dialogue with some insurgents is positive, there remains fundamental tensions in the current Thaipolitical environment. The contradiction between intensifying security and opening of “peace talks” may indicate a government administration lacking the ability to develop a viable and consistent policy leading to serious securitymiscalculations. As Shinawatra’s inner circle rapidly map out their new security strategy, there is a danger that the administration will fail to cast off the shadow of her brother’s hawkish security approach, triggering a new surge in violence.

Key power players in deep South – The Nation7 hours ago … Home » politics » Key power players in deep South … Muslim separatists, the Pheu Thai government has gone back to the…

The Malay Muslim and Thai relationship

Founded in 1390, Patani was a former Malay sultanate that historically encompassed the modern day provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla. Between 1767 and 1902 the Sultanate of Patani exercised full independence. In 1902, Siam (Thailand’s name before the Siam Revolution of 1932, which reduced the absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy) annexed Patani and moved for full scale incorporation in 1909. Today, Malay Muslims of the three deep south provinces make up between 71-83% of the area’s population.

Attempts by the Thai state and Thai Buddhists to assimilate and integrate the Malay Muslim populations have triggered a number of separatist campaigns from annexation to the present day.

 

Between 1960 and 1980 the Barisan National Pembebasan Patani (BNPP) and a number of other insurgent groups maintained an ethno-nationalist based separatist campaign. Over this period the low level conflict was a direct rejection of the overt promotion of a mono-ethnic Thai state during the post World War II period (though equally important have been poor Thai government administration and economic development inequalities). Demands for regional autonomy or independence have been strongly rejected by successive Thai military and popularly elected governments.

Key insurgent groups

Categorising insurgent movements and the overall estimated 9,000 insurgents intofactionalised camps does betray the complexity of the relationship betweendifferent insurgent generations (older generation insurgents and youngergenerations fighters or “juwae”) and the relationship between identifiedinsurgency groups and on-the-ground militants. However, identified insurgentgroups have played an important role in defining the conflict.

A Breakdown of Southern Thailand's Insurgent GroupsA Breakdown of Southern Thailand's Insurgent Groups. Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 17. September 8, 2006 10:22 AM…

Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO)

 

Formed in 1968, PULO havepromoted the succession of an independent Malay Muslim state across the deep south.PULO has identified itself as a “moderate” separatist group focused onMalay nationalism as opposed to Islamic or religious principles. While theorganisation split into two separate factions (old and new PULO) in the 1990s,exiled senior members have now reconciled differences and are alleged to haveheadquarters based in Malaysia. In August 2010, PULO Vice President KasturiMahkota stated: “We have to concentrate on our struggle. The roots arehistorical, not religious. We were occupied by the Thais for over 100 years.Our fight is for the identity and dignity of Patani, we don’t want to involveother.”

PULO – The Official WebsiteThe official website of Patani United Liberation Organisation, Laman Resmi Pertubuhan Pembebasan Patani Bersatu.

BarisanRevolusi Nasional and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN-C)

 

Originally established in the 1960s, the BRN is anethno-nationalist insurgency group that combined socialism with its insurgencyplatform and generally cooperated with the Malaysian Communist Party. In the1980s the BRN splintered into three factions, which included theBRN-Coordinate, BRN Ulema (focused on organising Islamic clergy) and BRNCongress (the main military wing).

The BRN-C is considered by many analysts as the core group coordinating currentinsurgency violence, or at least closely connected with a splinter group of militants (identifiedas Runda Kumpulan Kecil, RKK, allegedly responsible for ongoing attacks). BRN-C is distinctly Islamist in itsorientation with strong links to a large network of mosques and Islamicschools.

A 2007 Human Rights Watch report, No one is safe – which outlined the human rights abusesof the BRN-C network and its use of indiscriminate violence against monks,teachers and civilians  (both Buddhistsand Muslim) – describes the BRN-C as the backbone of a new generation ofseparatists. BRN-C is understood to be a political division with connections toa highly decentralised network of associated militants with noreal disconcertable core. The networks are primarily made up of 5-10 villagelevel militants who, in some circumstances, are associated with Islamicschools (pondoks). According to the Royal Thai Police there were in mid-2006around 3000 militants in around 500 cells operating under the BRN-C.

Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand – International Crisis GroupJun 22, 2009 … EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. While Thai leaders are preoccupied with turmoil in Bangkok, the insurgency in the South continues t…
No One Is Safe – Human Rights WatchAugust 2007. Volume 19, No. 13(C). No One Is Safe. Insurgent Attacks on Civilians in Thailand's Southern Border Provinces. Map of T…
World Report 2012: Thailand | Human Rights WatchYingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won a landslide victory in July 2011 elections,…

Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Pattani (GMIP)

 

Formed by Afghan veterans as an off-shoot of the older GerakanMujahideen Pattani and with strong links to Kumupulan Mujahideen Malay, itsMalaysian counterpart, GMIP is more often characterised by Thai authorities asa criminal gang than a group of separatist fighters. Initially thought to havedisbanded in 1993, Thai intelligence officials have more recently taken GMIPmore seriously after security forces gunned down two senior members inPattani.

The roots of insurgency

Insurgent groups in the deep south almost never claim responsibility for attacks and do not use violent attacks to publicise political demands. This obliqueness results in difficulty attributing violence to insurgency activities as opposed to more general criminal activity. In a 2007 article, Professor Aurel Croissant described the blurring of the lines between criminality and insurgency:

“For many decades, Thailand has been a hub for Southeast Asia’s drug and arms trade, due to its weak legal system, corrupt political and judicial authorities, and a feeble regulatory financial system … Given the ubiquity of organized and petty crime, small-arms trade, smuggle and drug trade in the South, it would be naıve to assume that criminals and terrorists can be clearly distinguished. Rather a more plausible assumption is that there is a broad grey zone of greed and grievance in which there is no clear threshold between ‘entrepreneurs of violence’ and ‘warriors of convenience.’ [Emphasis added.]

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Notwithstanding this challenge, debate about the deep south insurgency has focused on the relative influence of fundamentalist Islamic political consciousness on insurgency campaigns and the degree to which the insurgency is driven by a global jihadist platform or ethno-nationalism.

A number of commentators, scholars and local academics that reject the global Islamic insurgency framework, point to a lack of Thai political legitimacy, which from a Malay Muslim perspective can manifest in local experience of Thai administration in security and police operations, education, centralised provincial governance and interference in local political and religious organisations. Duncan McCargo in his book Tearing apart the land: Islam and legitimacy in southern Thailand challenges the “clash of civilizations” narrative offered by the security industry:
“A common but troubling reading of the Southern Thai conflict uses the tropes of “Islamic violence” and the global “war on terror” to frame the violence within larger notions of a civilizational clash between Islam and the West. According to this perspective, popularized by terrorism specialists such as Rohan Gunaratne and Zachary Abuza, the Thai conflict forms part of a wider pan-Southeast Asian network of radical Islamic violence. Viewing Thailand as a western-aligned democratic nation, terrorism specialists tend to regard Malay Muslim resistance to the Thai state as animated by a worldwide resurgence of radical Islam aimed at overturning democracy, and instituting some form of caliphate. In a damning indictment, Michael Connors has shown that Gunaratne’s writings are riddled with embarrassing errors of fact and interpretation: Connors advocates a “war on error” to counter the ill informed, sensationalist and muddle-headed work too often published by members of the “insecurity industry.

What's Really Happening in Southern Thailand? Duncan McCargo …the historic Kru-Ze mosque, where they had taken refuge. Ustad So disappeared without trace. A low-intensity civil war is still underwa…

One of International Crisis Group’s first reports on violence and conflict in southern Thailand made a similar assessment:

“The rise of more puritanical strains of Islam in southern Thailand is often cited as contributing to the violence, particularly given Muslim anger at the deployment of Thai troops in Iraq. But while Islamic consciousness and a sense of persecution and solidarity with fellow Muslims has grown over the last two decades, it would be a mistake to view the conflict as simply another manifestation of Islamic terrorism. The violence is driven by local issues.” [Emphasis added.]

Southern Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad – International Crisis GroupMay 18, 2005 … EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS. Violence in Thailand's southern, mainly Malay Muslim provinces has been ste…
Both these assessments were responding to growing suggestions that after a spike in violence between 2004 and 2006 there was evidence of the increasing radicalisation of Malay Muslim insurgent groups. At a 2006 conference on terrorism in Southeast Asia, a number of security analysts asserted:
“… the nationalist-separatist struggle in Southern Thailand is rapidly transforming into a politico-religious conflict. Insurgent ideologues are increasingly politicizing and mobilizing the target audience, using religion rather than nationalism.
TERRORISM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE THREAT AND RESPONSEApr 13, 2006 … 2 TERRORISM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE THREAT AND RESPONSE. KEYNOTE ADDRESS. What the government can do and is doing is to…

Evidence of transnational training and religious instruction in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, the likely (albeit minimal) presence of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the alleged growing popularity of Wahhabist based Islamic teaching are interpreted as suggesting a dominance of religious motives within southern Thailand’s s insurgent groups. Accounts of insurgency from younger generation militants may reinforce this perspective:

“We are different from the previous generation, who camped out in the mountains as an army of guerrilla fighters with clear structure and chain of command. That made them easy to be identified, tracked down, and suppressed by Thai security forces. Our new strategy is more community-based, operating from a cell in each village. … Islam has become much more important for our fight [compared to the previous generation] as the guiding principle. My generation is much more educated in Islam. The guidance of Islam is uniting us together, and keeping all of us true to our cause – that is to fight to liberate our land from the infidel occupation.” [No one is safe (Brussels: Human Rights Watch, 2007), 20-21]

The counter argument to Islamic radicalism outstripping ethno-nationalism revolves around the nature of violence not fitting the tactical patterns of groups with transnational links to global militant Islamic organizations. Even though tourism accounts for 7.1% of Thai GDP (2011) there have been very limited, large scale attacks on Western tourist targets that are within convenient striking distance from the deep south. Suicide bombing are non-existent. Claims of responsibility for attacks which have included arson attacks on Thai government schools, killings of teachers and beheadings have not been forthcoming. Indiscriminate attacks often resulting in large Malay Muslim casualties and may suggest that the more crude and unsophisticated attacks are rooted in the narcotics trade, smuggling or criminal syndicates.

While there is evidence of fundamentalist Islamic teaching in the deep south and some militants who justify the insurgency in terms of “expelling the  Thai infidels,” the weight of evidence points to the roots of insurgency as largely based on localised conflict and ethno-nationalism.

Critical events and insurgent responses

When Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party came to power in 2001 there was a fundamental shift in Bangkok’s approach to the deep south: a shift which likely triggered or catalysed a change in the nature and intensity of the insurgency.

The earlier strategies of political containment, part and parcel of the conservative, royalist military and elected regimes through the 1980s and 1990s and tied to the concept of “virtuous monarchical rule” had come to end. The reality of co-option and control of the Malay Muslim political elite, teachers and Islamic leaders within the Thai administrative and parliamentary system – an important ornament of monarchical rule – could no longer be denied and left the deep south with a belief that no one represented Malay Muslim interests. Their representatives were perceived as more Thai now than Malay Muslim.

Thanksin’s dismantling of special administrative arrangements for the deep south and installation of the unpopular and distrusted police force to manage security was the beginning of a Thai state security posture against which insurgents sought to justify an increasingly violent revolt. Emergency law decrees continued reinforcement of security forces and repeated overuse of detention powers reinforced a circle of violence.

THAKSIN AND THE RESURGENCE OF VIOLENCE IN THE THAI …toric Kru-Ze mosque in Pattani, killing thirty-two lightly armed men who had barricaded themselves inside. An official investigation la…
Incidents including the Krue Ze Mosque attack (where a 300 year old Mosque in Pattani was damaged after Thai security forces stormed the mosque killing 32 insurgents believed to be involved in fatal attacks on security outposts) and the Tak Bai demonstration (where seven protesters were shot dead at the scene and 78 others suffocated or were crushed to death as they were being transported to detention facilities) came to represent Thaksin’s approach to the insurgency in the eyes of the younger militants. For the insurgency, these incidents continue to resonate as moral authority for the movement to confront the Thai state.
Tak Bai and Krue Se ReportThe fact-finding committee and its four sub-committees have compiled a report with four sections: the introduction, the facts regarding…
Massacre at the Mosque – Thailandjourneymanpictures
Report – Thailand – Asian Human Rights CommissionPage 1. Page 2. Page 3. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,…

Recent violence

Plagued by major political turbulence, natural disasters and fears of foreign investment flight, little attention has been paid to the deep south during Yingluck Shinawatra’s first year. Even the coordinated bomb blasts in a Yala business area and Songkhla district that killed 13 and wounded 400 in March 2012 did not register strongly enough with the administration to initiate an immediate response. Only after the more recent attacks through June and July 2012 has the coordination and scale of these attack raised questions about a new surge in insurgent activity.
Bomb blasts kill 11 in southern Thailand | World news | guardian.co.ukMar 31, 2012 … Muslim separatists blamed for three explosions that have killed at least 11 people and wounded a further 110 in Yala. …
Thailand News: More bomb blasts; Opposition to file motion on Sout1 day ago … Thailand News: More bomb blasts; Opposition to file motion on South; Yingluck in censure debate. Phuket Gazette – Wednesd…
Emergency law extended in far South | Bangkok Post: breakingnewsJun 19, 2012 … The cabinet on Tuesday approved the extension of the executive decree for administration in emergency situations in th…
Thailand mulls curfew in southern unrest hotspots – Channel …1 day ago … BANGKOK: Thailand is considering imposing curfews in parts of its Muslim- dominated deep south in an attempt to quell an e…
Pattani CS hotel blast | Thailand's Search By Bangkok PostCar bomb attack hits Pattani hotel. General news. By Terry Fredrickson. » Another powerful car bomb rocked the deep South Tuesday, this…
Lights, camera, action! – The Nation1 day ago … Lights, camera, action!. The recent spike in violence in the South is spearheaded by a new crop of insurgents who often c…

Limitations on Shinawatra’s Pentagon II Strategy

Political competition and turbulence 
In Tearing apart the land: Islam and legitimacy in southern Thailand McCargo suggests that:
“… since the conflict is essentially about the perceived illegitimacy of the Thai state in the deep south, any solution needs to focus primarily on the legitimacy crisis. Thai-style virtuous legitimacy will not wash in Patani, while representative legitimacy on Thai terms has been tested and discredited. The only way forward is to try some form of participatory legitimacy … In other words substantive autonomy.”  
With the opposition Democrat Party still attached to royalist morality and virtuous security concepts and the Pheu Thai Party still harbouring many of the security beliefs of Thaksin’s TRT Party, continued political competition over finding a solution to the insurgency of the deep south may encourage ongoing violence.
Move to find peace in South needs to be depoliticised – The NationApr 15, 2012 … Move to find peace in South needs to be depoliticised. All sides must work together to find a way to talk with separat…

There is a question as to how far Shinawatra can push existing political boundaries erected around the deep south, which have to date discouraged any real discussion of regional or administrative autonomy. Withstanding the recent “peace talks,” undertaken during an expansion of security arrangements, the current political environment may limit the ability of Shinawatra to push political boundaries on autonomy and administrative arrangements.

“Reconciliation” legislation and constitutional reform agendas proposed by Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party have significantly inflamed political tension. Talk of amnesty and compensation for political violence between 2005 and 2010 and proposed modernisation of Thailand’s constitution had resulted in both United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD “red shirts”) and People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD “yellow shirts”) taking to the streets to protest and counter protest. The proposed amnesty for Thaksin’s corruption convictions, which would pave the way for Thaksin to make a permanent return to Thailand has been particularly contentious.

Thai MPs Scuffle Over Reconciliation Bills – Southeast Asia Real …May 31, 2012 … A bizarre scuffle in Thailand's Parliament served as a reminder of how far that country has to go to resolve its d…
Reconciliation gamesJun 5, 2012 … Bangkok Pundit refers to that in his piece here (http://asiancorrespondent.com/ 83699/a-review-of-the-thai-reconciliatio…
Thai Court Ruling Risks Constitution Showdown: Southeast Asia …Jul 16, 2012 … Thailand's political calm hangs in the balance as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's ruling party decides wh…

In this environment, Shinawatra’s relationship with the predominantly royalist aligned military may not be sufficiently stable to allow a radical departure from existing security approaches in the deep south. The reconciliation bills and constitutional reform may have already placed substantial pressure on the government’s relationship with the military. Anything that could be characterised as diluting Thai sovereignty, even reductions in army presence in the deep south, could further compromise the relationship.

BRN-C and other insurgent groups may have little faith that Shinawatra’s administration can exercise sufficient control over the military to bring about sincere negotiations. Reports continue that the military remains ardently opposed to autonomy for the deep south provinces and any attempt to establish a platform to discuss this issue may cause greater fissures in an already tense relationship between the Shinawatra Government and the military.

Analysis: Is Thailand's military compromising for the sake of …May 18, 2012 … By Saksith Saiyasombut The East Asia Forum recently published a column on the current political role of Thailand's…
Military brass get bogged down by misguided rhetoric – The Nation4 days ago … Military brass get bogged down by misguided rhetoric. Until the Thai establishment fully recognises real grievances in t…
South 'may be lost if UN intervenes' | Bangkok Post: breakingnewsAug 10, 2012 … Thailand might lose the deep South if the United Nations intervenes to suppress the violence in the region, deputy arm…
Deep south security framework
The current political turbulence in Thailand has limited the type of security response the Thai government can implement. While greater governmental and agency coordination in security, law enforcement, government services and administration sounds uncontentious, curfews and new safety zones may be interpreted as a continuation of Thaksin’s security measures. Existing emergency laws that embolden police powers of detention and arrest, which when excessive and zealously applied, already have a tendency to reinforce perceptions in parts of the Malay Muslim population that such activity is more about harassment than security. Low conviction rates and judicial skepticism at arrest practices may suggest that this perception has some evidence.
Southern discomfort | Bangkok Post: opinionMay 8, 2012 … Southern discomfort | Bangkok Post: opinion. Home · Help …. Again, this is a situation not unlike anywhere else in Th…
With police forces adopting counter-insurgency approaches to policing – but without the appropriate experience and training – the line between the army and police force has blurred. Involvement of paramilitary groups (Chor Ror Bor and Or Ror Bor) which are funded and allocated resources by government agencies to protect villages and report insurgent activities has contributed to communal level violence. Malay Muslim participation in paramilitary resistance to the insurgency (which is limited) presents an opportunity for insurgents to easily steal small arms and probably contributes to the high number of Malay Muslim victims of insurgent violence.
Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries – International …Oct 23, 2007 … EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Thailand's increasing reliance on paramilitary forces and civilian militias is hindering effort…
ASEAN Defense: Thailand's Yingluck & Prayuth increase CIA advisedJul 25, 2012 … ASEAN Defense: Thailand's Yingluck & Prayuth increase CIA advised “Safety Zones” in terrorism infected “Deep S…
Religion, guns tear apart south Thailand – Asia Times OnlineSep 2, 2009 … Religion, guns tear apart south Thailand By Brian McCartan. NARATHIWAT and YALA, southern Thailand – The proliferation …
Addressing the excesses of security forces, perpetrated by both paramilitary groups, police forces and the army, including unlawful arrests up to extrajudicial killings, will be an important precursor to achieving a degree of reconciliation before negotiations can take place. The National Reconciliation Commission established in 2005 in its review of the Tak Bai and Krue Se Mosque incidents did not satisfy the need to fully address the issue of extrajudicial killings. Its recommendations, such as encouraging greater participation by Malay Muslims in decision-making bodies, allowing the use of the local dialect as a working language by government officials and promoting dialogue with militant groups, were met with skepticism from the political establishment.
No easy way to start a peace process in the deep South – The NationMar 15, 2012 … No easy way to start a peace process in the deep South. With the backing of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the…
A Pathway to Peace for Thailand's Restive South? | In AsiaJun 13, 2012 … In March 2012, a few weeks before Thai New Year which is celebrated every April, a series of explosions rocked a distr…
Krue Se victims' kin unhappy with compo | Bangkok Post: news6 days ago … More than 60 relatives of those killed in the Krue Se mosque violence in 2004 gathered yesterday at the site in Pattani&…
The Crisis in Southern Thailand: The National Reconciliation …The Crisis in. Southern Thailand: The National. Reconciliation. Commission and the Emergency. Decree. Since late 2003, there has been c…
Global Change, Peace & Security Thailand's National Reconciliation …Thailand's National Reconciliation Commission: a flawed response to the. Southern Conflict. Duncan McCargo a a Politics and Interna…

Resolving the problems with the existing Thai security complex in the deep south to address the grievances of the Malay Muslim population may not be enough to stem the violence. Younger militants and the BRN-C may not be ready to come to the table and negotiate with Thai authorities. If, in their strategic estimation, the Thai state is not desperate enough or in a substantially weakened bargaining position, the militants may continue the violence until such a power dynamic exists.

In the eyes of some insurgent groups, there may exist a critical threshold in violence which must be reached before regional autonomy or independence may be successfully negotiated for. Casting Thaksin as an insurmountable road block to reconciliation and negotiation may give the insurgency sufficient time to consolidate its position. Prasert Pongsuwansiri, a Democrat MP from Yala, cited websites in a parliamentary debate linking the 31 March 2012 Yala bombing to unsuccessful talks between Thaksin and separatist representatives in Malaysia.

Did Thaksin met with the Deep South insurgents in Malaysia? | Asia …Apr 12, 2012 … In the first post, BP looked at the statistics of the violence from January 2004 until March 2012. In this post, which…
Are we any closer to a settlement with the insurgents in Thailand's …Jun 21, 2012 … BP has previously blogged about the idea of autonomy for the Deep South when Chavalit raised the issue here, the idea …
Peace still eluding Thai southMay 23, 2012 … On May 4, four local government officials were assassinated while travelling by sedan along a road in Saiburi, a distr…
The BRN-C cadres have made their position on Thaksin clear: they could never forgive Thaksin for what he has done to the Malays of Patani and continue to strive for independence from Thailand as opposed to autonomy.

Conclusion

The Thai government inevitably seeks for all security and administrative policy approaches to satisfy the dual objectives of winning the hearts and minds of Malay Muslims and suppressing the violent expression of separatist tendencies. Finding this balance in the current political climate will be difficult. There must be a question mark over whether Shinawatra has the political space to open up serious peace talks across the full spectrum of insurgent groups.

Even if Shinawatra can compensate for her brother’s failing in the deep south and establish dialogue with all insurgent groups, it is unlikely that the military and the opposition Democrat Party strongholds in the south will allow her to compromise or truly negotiate a level of regional autonomy that may satisfy the insurgent groups. Shinawatra’s inner circle will instead be relegated to tinkering at the edges of existing security responses and frameworks, and the violence will continue.

Dossier opened: 3 August 2012
Dossier closed: 21 August 2012

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