OK, so everyone knows there’s an insurgency down in the south of Thailand. It’s no big secret. It’s been going on for quite some time now. The thing is until recently it has been a fairly low key affair. Well, they say nothing lasts forever.
The fact is that the current Thai administration seems intent on breaking every rule in the book and ensuring that this thing blows up. Sure there are a few things outside of their control, like the foreign funded pondoks (religious schools like the infamous madrassas of Pakistan but traditionally less hardcore). It can’t really do much about the many thousands of Thai Muslims who have been educated in fundamentalist wahabbism abroad. It can’t even do much about the foreign funding of the insurgent groups which allows them to pay young unemployed men as members.
What it can do though is ensure that these things don’t exist in an environment where they can thrive. But that is what is happening.
Martial law has been in place now long enough to show the Muslims of the south that it will be abused with almost wreckless abandon. Extra-judicial killings are becoming a weekly (daily?) occurrence against the civilian population of the south. Around 1000 people have been killed in recent months and official inquiry hasn’t even been mooted. Such would be especially helpful in the case of the military’s massacre of civilians at Tak Bai where over 80 Muslims died in military custody.
The Prime Minister seems intent on exacerbating the situation by announcing that municipal funding will be targeted away from the south. That is to say that the “red” towns who are thought to support the insurgency will not be elligable for funding (remember those unemployed young men who are being offered money by the insurent groups?). That should really dry up support for the insurgency!
Relations with Malaysia are also strained with Thailand repeatedly accusing the Malays of involvement in Thai “domestic affairs.” The problem being that cooperation with Malaysia on the issue of border security is imperative to stemming the violence as it is believed many of the insurgent groups operate on the border with relative impunity.
So the list could go on. Thailand is being uncooperative in accepting outside suggestions into its “domestic affairs.” The question now is how long those affairs will remain isolated or indeed even “domestic.”