Friday, February 23, 2007

Is Southern Thailand Going the Way of Waziristan?

The South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) warns of the slow takeover of Thailands majority Muslim southern provinces by faceless, anonymous, but deadly attackers.


At least in Waziristan some individual leaders and the organisations to which they belong have been identified---such as Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud of the local Taliban, Tohir Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda and Jalaluddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban. They are as invisible as the jihadi leaders in Southern Thailand, but they are at least audible. They keep disseminating audio messages, issuing statements, talking to the media over satellite phones etc. In Waziristan, human intelligence is as scanty as in Southern Thailand, but technical intelligence has been forthcoming from the US agencies operating in the area.

In Southern Thailand, the jihadi leaders are neither visible nor audible. No recorded messages, no statements, no TECHINT intercepts, no HUMINT derived either from sources or during the interrogation of arrested suspects. There are hardly any arrests----not even accidental. Counter-terrorism agencies often get a lucky break in the form of suspects accidentally intercepted and detained, failed attacks due to human error on the part of the terrorists or malfunctioning of their improvised explosive devices. One hears of hardly any such lucky-break in Southern Thailand. There is evidently no satisfactory data-base which could enable analysts to quantify the threat and assess the results of the counter-terrorism efforts.

Commentary

There seems a lack of consensus about two aspects of the situation in Southern Thailand. First. How serious is it really? The SAAG thinks it is. Others may disagree. Second, who really leads the insurgency? Is it still fundamentally driven by a Malay/Muslim national feeling or is it the Jihad?

6 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

A Washington Post article wakes up to the threat posed by Waziristan as it recognizes that allowing sanctuaries to develop created 9/11. It also understands that there is no appetite in Washington to actively stop it.

The criticism against the war in Iraq was at first depicted as an effort to "do it right" by offering critiques of strategy, etc. Surely every realist could support that. But was its real result to establish the policy of never doing anything at all? Just as the "slow bleed" really means "supporting the troops", we were told withdrawing from Iraq will really allow us to fight Osama Bin Laden. To do the right things. Now the Post argues that nobody in Washington is willing to confront the resurgence of the Taliban in Waziristan. I guess the fruit describes the tree in the end. The sustained End the War in Iraq capaign may really be a campaign to End the War.

2/23/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I think Thailand is an interesting case. Thailand can hardly be put up as an exhibit of imperialism and oppression, still the Muslims attack them. Why? Do they arm the Israelis? Do they have a large contingent of troops in Iraq or Afghanistan? Did they kick the Moors out of Al-Andalusia hundreds of years ago? Did they send cohorts on the Crusades?

Why?

2/23/2007 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's to do with pre-Colonial history, when surprise, surprise, conquests, border disputes and religious rivalry existed before the White Man darkened paradise. Siam had grabbed that part of the Peninsula and perhaps with time would have made it Buddhist or lost it back to the Malays and we would never have been the wiser.

Unfortunately, we are now in the modern era, where rivalry between kingdoms and sultanates is frowned upon. Largely because -- and ironically because -- the United States created a stable environment for nation states.

At any rate, the same world of stable boundaries is also the world of transnational terrorism. One wonders how much of terrorism is actually due to the fact that the world has been frozen in place. Back in the 18th century, disputes were settled in a more old fashioned way. Today, with borders inviolable, bombing the marketplace may have to do.

I know I'm not answering your question. Just rambling. But I hope it helps.

2/23/2007 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Wretchard it was a completely rhetorical one anyway.

Given what I know the area I had an inkling their was probably tension between the infiltrating Muslims and pre-existing population. After all, when Magellan first arrived Islam was established in Mindanao and just starting to arrive in Luzon.

The Islamic sense of injustice does extend far into the past, doesn't it?

2/23/2007 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Frith said...

Marcus Aurelius said...
I think Thailand is an interesting case. Thailand can hardly be put up as an exhibit of imperialism and oppression, still the Muslims attack them. Why?

This is the Tak Bai massacre video. The guy being kicked by the army is shouting 'paw laeow'. Which in this context translates. "OK, please stop" you can see by his demeanour that he's in shock and in no mood for a Jihad.

After this kicking the army rounded up the guys and stacked horizontally in a truck. The ones on the bottom suffocated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yRtLEc5YAE

It's complex and I don't know all the reasons why but you should be aware that it's a Junta in power now and even though an official apology was made as soon as Thaksin Shinawatra was removed in a Putsch, it's the army that the people hold responsible for these actions even though the former Prime Minister classed these people as bandits.

He did many interesting things while in power but apart from making a shed load of money from his business interests his worst failing was the brutality that he dealt to Southern Thailand. Things are not good and now we have bombs in Bangkok. I see a connection.

Another example of polarising people causes more deaths.

2/23/2007 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger bob k. mando said...

Marcus Aurelius said
The Islamic sense of injustice does extend far into the past, doesn't it?


actually, no. otherwise the Islamists would recognize that ALL of their claims are illegitimate as 'their' lands were taken, usually violently, from previous claimants.

thinking that a Muslim even has a concept of 'justice' for non-Muslims is probably your first error.

2/25/2007 02:51:00 PM  

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