Friday, July 22, 2005

Trouble in Thailand

The American press hasn't had much coverage of the violence in southern Thailand. For the past 18 months, the government has been battling Islamic separatists in that predominantly Muslim region. Alan Dawson, an editor with the Bangkok Post, looks at the history of southern Thailand, as well as the current conflict:
Last week's attack on a major province capital in the deep South of Thailand has taken the 18-month regional war by a shadowy gang of Islamist separatists to new levels on both sides of the conflict. In their coordinated attack on Yala town, the insurgents showed new expertise they appear to be learning from forces with strong links to international terrorism in Malaysia and Indonesia. The government responded with new anti-terrorism measures that go far beyond even the anti-communist laws of the recent Cold War era.
The escalations from both sides only accentuate the obvious, that the southern insurgency will continue in Thailand. But an even greater danger than a murderous rebellion in the furthest provinces from the seat of government in Bangkok is that the fighting in the South will turn into a full-fledged terrorist campaign with full participation by al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries.
According to Dawson, "there is no history of religious animosity in Thailand," but the insurgency had taken on some familiar tactics, such as beheading. Charles Johnson has been out in front of this part of the story with numerous reports of insurgent violence.

If there's a way to blame this violence on the war in Iraq or on the Israelis (or on the worldwide Zionist conspiracy), I'm sure someone will.