HomeAsia-Pacific Social Science Reviewvol. 5 no. 2 (2005)

Thaksin and the Challenge of Islamist Militancy in Southern Thailand

Bilveer Singh

Discipline: Political Science



Ironically, under the democratically elected leadership of Thaksin Shinawatra, the conflict in Southern Thailand and issues related to Islamist militancy have reached its pinnacle in recent history. This is evident in the more than 1200 deaths, the brutal repression undertaken by Thai security apparatus, apparently with official sanction and from the various draconian policies undertaken by Bangkok to quell what appears to be an intifada· type rebellion in the South. Despite rhetoric from Bangkok on the need to resolve the dispute, no headway has been made in breaking the impasse with the South and to aggravate the situation, the international backlash has placed Thailand on international spotlight as one of the United States' "non-NATO" ally that is involved in a conflict the radical Islamists. This article analyses the background to the recent upsurge of the conflict, the groups involved, the raison d’être of the conflict, reasons for the upsurge under Thaksin, the implications and possible way ahead.