| Backgrounder: The Muslim Insurgency in Southern Thailand

Over the past four years, an insurgency in Thailand's southern, predominantly Muslim provinces has claimed nearly three thousand lives. The separatist violence in these majority Malay Muslim provinces has a history traceable back for more than half a century. Some experts say brutal counterinsurgency tactics by successive governments in Bangkok have worsened the situation. Political turmoil in Bangkok and tussle between supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the country's military have further contributed to the instability, working to stymie any serious initiatives for a long-term solution to the crisis.

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Co-authored by Jayshree Bajoria and Carin Zissis | Washington's Bangkok Blues

Each spring for the past twenty-six years, the United States and Thailand have held joint military exercises known as Cobra Gold. But this May’s exercises in Thailand come during an unusual shaky patch in the longtime U.S.-Thai alliance. The Thai military overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006, pledging to hold democratic elections by December this year. Following the coup, Washington suspended $24 million in military aid and halted negotiations on a free trade agreement. 

Read the full text. | Asian Military Drift

Four months after promising power would be “returned to the people,” leaders of a military coup in Thailand remain in charge, with half the country under martial law. Talk of a coup is also in the air in Bangladesh, amid a political crisis (The Economist). In Sri Lanka, the revival of the country’s lengthy civil war has raised the prominence of military voices on its political scene.

Read the full text. | Like Old Times in Bangkok

Thai general Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who led a swift coup in Bangkok on Tuesday, said the military had seized power to end the turmoil under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's leadership (Australian). During a press conference, Sonthi said a new prime minister would be installed within two weeks to lead the country until elections are held in October 2007 (FT). Meanwhile King Bhumibol, who has been placed at the nation's helm, endorsed the coup, and the ousted Thaksin, in New York for the UN General Assembly, made plans to travel to London (AP). The Bangkok Post offers a timeline of recent developments, and a Q&A by the BBC discusses the coup's impact. 

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