Jihad and the coup in Thailand

Adventures of Chester:

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It seems Thailand has made two strategic errors in the past 15 years, the first of which was the dismantling of intelligence assets in the south.

A 2004 article from The Straits Times notes that

the upsurge in violence is also proving difficult to understand and control because it comes after Bangkok effectively dismantled its intelligence apparatus in the area and scaled down its military presence, thinking it had all but crushed the separatist movement in the late 1990s.

The simple, stark fact, as admitted to me by a retired Thai general last week, is that neither the military nor the police now have a clue what is going on in the south.

Dr. Abuza made the same point in the piece above, noting,
“There has been a complete failure of intelligence. No one knows who the insurgents are. They don’t have a face.”
In the absence of this lack of knowledge, it seems that ousted PM Thaksin made his second error: he responded to the insurgency with heavy-handed tactics, rather than classic counterinsurgency strategy. This only served to make things worse.

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I thought Thaksins response was not so much heavy handed as intermittent. There was no real sustained effort of any kind. I also think classic counter insurgency warfare is not always approriate for dealing with the true believers of jihad. There grievances have little to do with politics or the day to day problems of life. Their grievances have to do with their religious bigotry and there is no tolerance for anyone who has not bought into their bigotry. Making nice with them is not going to change their mind nor make them tolerant of "the other." The situation in Thailand is very different from Iraq where everyone is a Muslim of one stripe or another. In Thailand the Muslims jihadis want to kill everyone else.

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