Thailand Defence & Security Report Q4 2013 - New Study Released

New Defense research report from Business Monitor International is now available from Fast Market Research

[USPRwire, Sun Nov 10 2013] Though territorial disputes involving China and several South East Asian countries have been in the news of late, Thailand has been largely uninvolved in these events. Instead, it remains preoccupied with its own international problems, two of which are particularly pressing. The first is the ongoing power struggle between the royalist-military establishment and the Shinawatra family backed by the mass Red Shirt movement. The second is the seemingly intractable problem of the insurgency in Thailand's deep south.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra continues to manoeuvre with a view to securing the return of her brother Thaksin from exile. Himself a former prime minister, Thaksin was ousted in 2006 by an army coup. While Yingluck has gone to great pains to conciliate the military leadership and the palace, she has begun to exert pressure for her brother's return. In July, she appointed herself as defence minister; in doing so she gave herself an important say in the military appointments process, and she may intend to use this as a bargaining chip when it comes to agreeing the terms of Thaksin's homecoming with the army chiefs. A new amnesty bill drafted with Thaksin in mind was also put before parliament in August.

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The risk remains that Yingluck will overplay her hand and provoke another military coup. Yet this would only serve to destroy the delicate stability that currently prevails in Thailand. Public anger over the killing of 90 Red Shirt protesters in 2010 is ramping up as a lengthy public inquiry details the events leading to their deaths. Many in Thailand are demanding prosecutions, including that of the prime minister at the time, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has been charged with murder. Just like the issue of Thaksin's return, the question of the 2010 killings is highly emotive and polarising, and has the potential to plunge Thailand back into crisis. Similarly, the passing of Thailand's long-serving and increasingly frail monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, looms on the horizon as a potentially destabilising event that may usher in a period of turmoil.

The issue of the southern insurgency is also deeply divisive, with the Yingluck administration pursuing talks with one of the militant groups despite the opposition of military commanders. However, the talks do not appear to be bearing fruit, with the BRN - the militant group in question - issuing five demands which it says the government must meet if talks are to continue. Even if negotiations do take place, most of the Malay insurgent groups remain outside the process, so it is hard to see how they can succeed.

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