Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thailand, Malaysia, Malacca Straits

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/f22a518a-1115-11da-adc0-00000e2511c8.html

'Islamist' insurgency and security force reprisals have claimed more than 900 lives in the south of Thailand since January 2004.

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http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/06/malacca_malaysi.php#more

Grim, at billroggio.com, 9 June 2005, explains that the Malacca Straits, between Indonesia and Thailand are of great importance to the world's economy because half the world's oil supply passes through them.

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One obstacle to American control of the Straits is Malaysia.

Southern Thailand lies next to Malaysia.

The Youth Chief of Malaysia's opposition party, PAS, claimed in 2004 that 'the bombings in Bali and Jakarta were perpetrated by the CIA to discredit Muslims and that captured JI and al-Qaeda leader Hambali was also on the CIA payroll. After all, the PAS youth leader observed, "These kind of sophisticated bombs could only be bought by the U.S."'
http://www.csis.org/pacfor/cc/0404Qus_asean.html

Why is someone stirring things up in Southern Thailand and other parts of the region?

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http://www.csis.org/pacfor/cc/0404Qus_asean.html

Sheldon W. Simon, of Arizona State University, gave an American viewpoint on the region at the end of 2004:

"The past year has witnessed the revival of what seem to be separatist attacks in the Thai south sufficiently serious that the Thaksin government has placed three provinces – Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat – under martial law. After armed attacks in January and April on security checkpoints and state-run schools to which the military responded with overwhelming force on Oct. 25, Thai troops killed 9 protestors at Tak Bai, arresting 80 others who suffocated after being piled in army trucks. For Malay-speaking Muslims in southern Thailand, there is a strong belief that their ethno-religious identity is under siege.

"While Thai security officials have cooperated with their Malaysian counterparts to arrest separatist leaders on both sides of the border, the large number of southern Thai Muslim deaths in 2004 have caused dismay in neighboring Malaysia and raised concerns throughout Southeast Asia as well as the United States that Muslim unrest in the region could become a new breeding ground for JI involvement. Hundreds of Malaysians demonstrated outside the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur after the October incident, and the prominent Thai newspaper, The Nation, cited a Thai intelligence report that fingered the Malaysian Islamist opposition party, PAS, as supporting southern Thai violence. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir's suggestion that Bangkok grant political autonomy to the south was equally unhelpful...

"Both the Malaysian opposition and the government continued to snipe at U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the U.S. war on terrorism. In early December, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar stated that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as well as the heavy tempo of terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Iraq show that U.S. efforts in the Middle East are not succeeding. Recently released from prison, popular Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim also weighed in, stating the President Bush's actions and "arrogance" had created a deeper rift between Muslims and the West."

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