Southeast Asia Theater

Sharia law for Thailand?

From the Brunei Times, Nov. 9:

Surayud eyes autonomy for Thai south
Thailand's military-appointed prime minister, whose visit to the troubled deep South yesterday sparked a new wave of violence, is mulling to allow the rule of sharia law in the majority-Muslim region as a long-term solution to its problems.

Mindanao militarized in wake of terror wave

A new military operation on Mindanao and growing impetus for a sweeping "anti-terrorism" bill in Manila, both aimed at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—which denies involvement in the terror blasts which have targeted markets and other public places, leaving a dozen dead in recent days. From the Philippines' Sun-Star Network, Oct. 11:

Thailand: new GWOT flashpoint?

We'll have a clearer idea of what is going on here when the dust settles, but two things are worth noting about the Sept. 19 coup d'etat in Thailand. First, the coup leader Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is the first Muslim to head the nation's armed forces, and was apparently appointed in an effort to win hearts and minds in the Islamist insurgency in the country's south. Secondly, the coup comes days after Thailand was implicated as possible host of one of the now-acknowledged secret CIA prisons established after 9-11 for the Global War on Terrorism.

Indonesia: Christian militiamen face execution

Note that this is being portrayed openly as a tit-for-tat to counter-balance the scheduled execution of those convicted in the Bali bombings. Note also that the Indonesian military itself has been accused of enflaming the Sulawesi violence through proxy militias. And note that the Pentagon has openly broached intervention in the Sulawesi conflict. From Asia News, Aug. 10:

Ramos Horta to lead East Timor

Jose Ramos Horta, winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, is a figure of towering moral authority, and will hopefully be able to restore both stability and real sovereignty to his nation. But it is painful to watch him take power as the East Timor he struggled to liberate from Indonesia is under de facto occupation by Australia and other foreign powers. From Austrialia's The Age, July 11:

Aussie imperialism exploits East Timor unrest

Exactly four years after winning its independence from Indonesia, East Timor is tragically descending into chaos, and Australia has sent a "peacekeeping" force. Excerpts from a Reuters account via TV New Zealand, May 27:

Gangs of youths allied to feuding East Timor police or army units went on the rampage in parts of the capital on Saturday, torching houses and vehicles, as Australian and Malaysian peacekeeping troops stepped up their patrols.

Australia-Indonesia cartoon wars

From Reuters, March 30:

CANBERRA - An Indonesian cartoon depicting Australia's prime minister and foreign minister as fornicating dingoes was "grotesque", Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Thursday as bilateral tension flared with Jakarta.

Religious violence in Thailand

As we observed in the recent case in Nazareth, the choice of religious targets by the "mentally ill" is not so apolitical as it seems. If nothing else, it reflects a zeitgeist. From Reuters, March 25:

Thai Muslim killed after smashing Hindu god image
BANGKOK — A mentally-ill Muslim smashed a landmark Hindu statue in central Bangkok, worshipped by people of many religions, and was then beaten to death, police said on Tuesday.

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