Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Military Coup in Thailand?

Update: According to the latest news stories, the leader of the coup was chosen not because he is expected to get tough on the Muslim insurgency, but to pull a Kofi and negotiate with it (hat tip: LGF):

[Army commander Gen.] Sondhi [Boonyaratkalin], who is known to be close to Thailand’s revered constitutional monarch, will serve as acting prime minister, army spokesman Col. Akarat Chitroj said. Sondhi, well-regarded within the military, is a Muslim in this Buddhist-dominated nation.

Sondhi, 59, was selected last year to head the army partly because it was felt he could better deal with the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand, where 1,700 people have been killed since 2004. Recently, Sondhi urged negotiations with the separatists in contrast to Thaksin’s hard-fisted approach. Many analysts have said that with Thaksin in power, peace in the south was unlikely.

It looks like a military coup might be underway in Thailand. According to CTV:

Thai protestsThailand’s prime minister has declared a “severe” state of emergency after rumours of a military coup swept the capital and tanks reportedly took position outside government headquarters.

“I declare Bangkok under a severe state of emergency,” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in a message broadcast on army-owned TV station Channel 5.

Reports say more than 10 tanks blocked roads around the government headquarters, as Army television broadcast images of the royal family and songs associated in the past with military coups.

Shinawatra said he was ordering the transfer of the country’s army chief to work in the prime minister’s office — effectively suspending him from his military duties.

The prime minister is in the middle of a political crisis as a street campaign is calling for him to step down amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

He has indicated he may step down as leader of the country after upcoming elections, but said for now he will stay at his party’s helm.

Prime Minister Thaksin has had problems in the past with accusations of corruption, and has been blamed for his failure to put down the Islamic terror insurgency in the south of the country. Earlier this year he faced the rumblings of a “people power” movement designed to force him to resign.

Massive rallies earlier this year forced Thaksin to dissolve Parliament and call for a snap election in April.

The poll was boycotted by opposition parties and later annulled by Thailand’s top courts, leaving the country without a working legislature.

New elections are scheduled for Oct. 15 but are likely to be postponed until at least November.

We’ll be watching the developments on this one.

Hat tip: Wally Ballou.


Wally Ballou said...

After the rallies earlier in the year, the King asked Thaksin over for a talk. Although the details were secret, it was widely assumed that HRH asked the PM to resign. He may have agreed, but left himself enough wiggle room about just when he would do it, that it still isn't clear what his plans were.

If the military promises to restore civilian rule quickly, they may even enjoy broad popular support - for awhile.

What a mess. Poor Thai people.

Panday said...

I wonder if this military coup is going to result in a bigger push against the muslim separatists in the south of Thailand.

kepiblanc said...

stephen renico --

Hardly :

From Breitbart :

Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, who is known to be close to Thailand's revered monarch and is a Muslim in this Buddhist-dominated nation, will be acting prime minister, said army spokesman Col. Akara Chitroj.

ziontruth said...

Distressing. I've commented on this in my latest.

Wally Ballou said...

This is NOT a "muslim coup". Muslims are an infinitesimal minority in the capital, which is the only big city. The coup leader may be a Muslim by heritage, but he is very close to, and totally loyal to the King, who is a Buddhist (the Thai royal family practices Buddhism with a strong Hindu flavor). He is clearly no Islamist, nor is there any conceivable constituency within the Thai military for Islamism.

There are other issues in the world besides Islam, you know. I urge GOV readers not to be blinded by the coup leader's ethnicity into thinking they understand the root casue of the coup.

The closest analogue to Thaksin (the ousted PM) in our own experience is probably Huey Long. enormously corrupt and very popular among the poorest in society. Many, many people in Thailand, possibly including the royal family, wanted him out in the worst way.

ziontruth said...

"Muslim" and "totally loyal" in the same sentence? Does not compute.

Whether the coup itself is Muslim or not isn't the point. The point is it could drive a change of policy in favor of appeasement of the Thai jihadis. And that could disastrous, just as Israel's acceptance of the UN ceasefire and leaving Hizbullah to rearm has emboldened jihadis everywhere.

By the way: Islam is not an ethnicity. I'm fed up of this (intentional or not) categorization error.

Wally Ballou said...

I should have known better. Forgive my abysmal ignorance, but I will make one more try and then bow out.

docneaves, I don't know everything about Thailand, but I do know something about it. Your notion of a Thai caliphate is nonsense on stilts. If Thailand is under muslim control in a year, I will humbly beg your pardon. if not, please beg mine.

and zionistyoungster - in Thailand muslim IS an ethnicity. Most southern Thai muslims have family ties to Malaysia. They are ethnically, as well as religiously distinct. Finally, because you read in the press that a man is "muslim", without knowing anything about how observant he is or what his beliefs are, you know he can't be loyal to his country or his king? That sounds a whole lot like the "dual loyalty" libel used by our anti-semitic friends.

But what do I know?

ziontruth said...


"in Thailand muslim IS an ethnicity. Most southern Thai muslims have family ties to Malaysia. They are ethnically, as well as religiously distinct."

Yes, but that's only because Thai Muslims happen to be descendants of Malays and living in the regions neighboring Malaysia. They, like the Malaysians themselves, have ties to the Islamic Ummah first, hence their taking part in all the riots (the Mohammad Cartoons, the Papal Jihad) too. Like Anwar Shaikh said: Islam is really Arab imperialism, setting the eyes of Muslims in Malaysia and South America toward Mecca rather than their own countries.

"Finally, because you read in the press that a man is 'muslim', without knowing anything about how observant he is or what his beliefs are, you know he can't be loyal to his country or his king?"

I agree he may be non-observant... but it is a thing with Muslims that they can suddenly snap after decades of living peacefully with non-Muslims. You know, it's like an Order 66 waiting to be issued one day and, then, all the years of friendship vanish.

"That sounds a whole lot like the 'dual loyalty' libel used by our anti-semitic friends."

I realize that, but in the case of Muslims it's based on things you see before your very eyes, not on a book by the Tsarist Secret Service claiming to unmask a conspiracy. Anti-Semitism was based largely on conspiracy theories, whereas Islamophobia is the result of seeing things like these papal riots.

Anyway, I apologize if I acted too confrontational toward your first comment.

Wally Ballou said...

good grief - docneaves - I apologize for not having read your comment carefully enough. Give it a rest.

If all you meant is that "Islamics [sic]will make gains" you are probably right.

Panday said...

In any event, after watching that asshat, Hugo Chavez, at the UN today, I'd rather a coup were happening in Venezuela than Thailand.

Even Khruschev had more style when he banged his shoe and promised to bury us.