[WSF-Discuss] Thailand: Military Coup Follows Judicial Coup, Finally

Sukla Sen sukla.sen at gmail.com
Fri May 23 01:35:47 CDT 2014

[This site includes a video clip of 25 minutes.]


Thailand crisis: can martial law help?
Army chief summons political rivals after declaring military rule to
"ensure law and order".
Inside Story <http://www.aljazeera.com/profile/inside-story.html>Last
updated: 21 May 2014 22:38

Thailand's army chief has been justifying the imposition of martial law,
insisting it is not a coup. General Prayuth Chan-Ocha's decision follows
months of protests, part of a political power struggle dating back to 2006.

His first order of business was to summon Thailand's main power brokers for
face-to-face talks, as the army sought to restore stability, and find
common ground for an eventual solution.

The two sides are broadly split. Supporters of the deposed prime minister,
Thaksin Shinawatra, are known as 'Red Shirts', and typically rural and
working class.

Then there is the anti-government movement, which includes 'Yellow Shirts',
who are predominantly urban and middle class. They want an interim,
unelected government to implement reforms.

So can the army act as mediator to Thailand's polarised political rivals?
Or will the military try to impose its own solution?

Presenter: Dareen Abughaida <https://twitter.com/DareenAG>

Guests: *Dominic Faulder* - a Bangkok-based journalist and author

*Nattakorn Devakula* - a TV host and political analyst, and a former
independent candidate for Bangkok governor

*Kasit Piromya -* a member of the policy committee of the opposition
Democrat Party, and a former Thai ambassador
[This site also has a video clip.]


Thailand coup: A cheat sheet to get you up to speed
By *Catherine E. Shoichet*, CNN
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)

Thai military announces coup

*CNN TV has been taken off air in Thailand. The people of Thailand deserve
to know what is happening in their own country, and CNN is committed to
telling them. Follow our updates on Facebook
<https://www.facebook.com/cnninternational> andTwitter
<https://twitter.com/cnni>, and share your updates from Thailand via CNN
iReport <http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/1074941>.*

*(CNN)* -- Thailand's military declared Thursday that it has taken control
of the country in a coup.

Two days earlier, the military declared martial
saying the aim was to calm tensions.

What's fueling the situation in Thailand? What could happen next? And why
should you be paying attention?

Here's a guide to understanding the country's fast-moving crisis:
*What's the latest?*

Details are sketchy, but Thailand's military chief announced Thursday in a
national address that the armed forces had taken control of the country
after rival factions were unable to reach an agreement to govern.

On Tuesday, the military declared martial law without consulting the
country's interim prime minister, who was serving in a caretaker status
after former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra -- also a caretaker -- was
ousted by Thailand's Constitutional Court. An aide to interim Prime
Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan described Tuesday's move by the
military as "half a coup d'etat."

There's been no reaction from Niwatthamrong's camp so far.

The country remains under martial law, which among other things includes
restrictions on where protesters can gather, what TV and radio broadcasters
can air and social media posts, according to the Bangkok

Thailand wakes up to military rule: What it

*How did things get to this point?*

Thailand's politics have been in turmoil for
driven in large part by a schism between populists, many of them rural and
poor, and a largely urban middle class and elite in Bangkok partial to the
nation's royal establishment.

The current disruption has its roots in the 2006 military ouster of
billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who built a strong political
base with populist policies that appealed to rural villagers in Thailand's

Thaksin's removal led to a broad-based opposition movement that came to a
head with widespread demonstrations in parts of Bangkok in 2010. The
military violently suppressed the protests, resulting in some 90 deaths.

A year later Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, rode a wave of
opposition votes into power.

*I*n 2013, Yingluck proposed legislation that would have granted amnesty to
Thaksin and others. The move set off a new wave of protests and
this time among Bangkok's urban elites and middle class sometimes known as
"Yellow Shirts" -- who want an end to the involvement of Thaksin's family
in Thai politics for good.
In May, Thailand's Constitutional Court removed
 and nine Cabinet ministers from office, saying she had violated the Thai
Constitution by reassigning a senior security official in 2011.

Populists known as "Red Shirts" saw her ouster as a "judicial coup" and
have been protesting what they consider a bias by many of the country's
institutions against their side.

Things escalated last week when three Yellow Shirt protesters died and 23
were injured<http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/14/world/asia/thailand-protests-shooting-attack/>
gunmen opened fire on a protest camp. The violence prompted anominous
the army chief that troops would have to step in if the situation didn't
calm down.

*What's next?*

Before the coup, the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, said the next step
would be bringing "rival parties to talk in peace."

It wasn't immediately clear if such negotiation is still on the table, or
if the military has other plans.

Previously, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at
Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said the military was in a precarious

"They have to be evenhanded," he said at the time.

"If it's seen as favoring one side or the other side, then we could see
more violence and turmoil against the military," he said.

*Has anything like this ever happened before in Thailand?*

Thailand is no stranger to military coups.

Including Thursday's coup, the military has attempted 19 coups in 80 years;
12 have been successful.

Before Thursday, the last one was in 2006 when the military sent tanks onto
the streets before ousting Thaksin.

Soldiers, selfies and martial

*Why should I care about this?*

Thailand's political instability could have an impact beyond the country's

"Known as the 'Detroit of the East,' Thailand has risen to become a vital
manufacturing and assembly hub of hard-disk drives and automobiles for
Japanese and Western firms," the Center for Strategic and International
Studies said in a December analysis of the political

The months of protests have already hurt Thailand's economy and run the
risk of making the country less attractive to investors and governments
looking to strike up deals, analysts said.

"A reputation for perpetual political unrest would definitely hurt
Thailand's competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investment in the
future," the analysis said.

A recent report from the U.S. Congressional Research
that "Bangkok's reliability as a partner, and its ability to be a regional
leader, are uncertain."

"A stable Thailand is strategically important to the United States, both
because of its status as a U.S. treaty ally and as an anchor for mainland
Southeast Asia," the report said. "U.S. policymakers are faced with how to
deal with an unraveling democracy and how to respond to profound concerns
about the civilian-military balance in Thai society."

*This sounds familiar. How does it compare to what we've seen in other

Around the world, we've heard a lot about coups recently.

In Libya, some troops have been arguing that increasing military power
that's rallying behind a renegade local general
anything about which to worry. But the Libyan government and the military
command in Tripoli reacted with
saying that they didn't order retired Gen. Khalifa Haftar's deadly attacks
against Islamist militants last week, and that the operation -- which they
conceded included some Libyan soldiers -- amounted to a coup.

In February, Ukraine's President claimed a
coup<http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/22/world/europe/ukraine-protests/> had
forced him from office, while lawmakers said they were following the will
of the people when parliament voted to oust him and hold new elections.
A military coup in Egypt last year ousted President Mohamed Morsy from
office and placed an interim leader in power. A debate surged afterward
about whether a coup was an appropriate term to use
the ouster.

Peace Is Doable
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