wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BANGKOK686
2005-01-26 12:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

THAILAND: DEEP SOUTH UPDATE - JANUARY 26, 2005

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PTER  TH 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000686 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, DRL, S/CT; USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND: DEEP SOUTH UPDATE - JANUARY 26, 2005

REF: BANGKOK 485

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Clarke. Reason: 1.4 (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Violence continues in the far southern
provinces of Thailand, in stark contrast to images of ongoing
relief efforts in neighboring provinces. With the tsunami
garnering less attention the media, violence in the deep
South is again re-emerging as a central domestic political
issue. In what appears to be an ill-advised move to augment
a policy that is overly security-based, the RTG is
considering deployment of a new infantry division to the
South. Current plans would greatly increase the number of
troops in the region and provide for a separate chain of
command, outside the existing 4th Army structure. The Muslim
population in southern Thailand is likely to react poorly to
more troops among them. The government promise that more
Islamic teachers will be arrested also could potentially
backfire. Recent hints by the Police that some politicians
are behind the southern violence probably should be
discounted in light of the upcoming February 6 elections.
END SUMMARY

DAILY INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE CONTINUE



2. (U) As noted in reftel, violent attacks in the far south
of Thailand have not diminished since the December 26, 2004
tsunami. The violence continues in the pattern witnessed

SIPDIS
during most of 2004, with shootings, bombings, and arson
attacks occurring on an almost daily basis. On January 24 a
policeman in Narathiwat and a mail carrier in Yala were shot
and killed by unknown assailants.

GOVERNMENT CONSIDERING NEW FORCE FOR SOUTH



3. (SBU) The RTG is seriously considering creation of a new
"15th infantry division" to strengthen the combat capability
of security forces in the three southernmost provinces. The
division, if approved, reportedly would have 12,000 troops.
The unit would be led by an Army Major General who would
report directly to Army central command in Bangkok (and not
through the 4th Army Area Commander who is supposed to lead
Army units in the South). Prime Minister Thaksin said on
January 25, after expectations had been raised of Cabinet
approval that day, that the issue was still under
consideration.

GOVERNMENT SAYS MORE ISLAMIC TEACHERS WILL BE ARRESTED



4. (U) Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana announced on
January 25 that the RTG has issued warrants for 21 Islamic
religious teachers, or "ustaz". Eight ustaz have already
been arrested in the past month, and the government has
claimed that they are providing credible information to
investigators.



5. (U) Separately, Sombat Amornvivat, the Director-General
of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), claimed on
January 24 that the DSI had evidence linking certain
(unnamed) "politicians" to ongoing southern violence. Sombat
said the evidence was not yet substantial enough to issue
warrants, but that the investigation would continue. He also
noted that the arrests of politicians now could adversely
affect the election, scheduled for February 6.

COMMENT



6. (C) COMMENT: The unabated violence in southern Thailand
has not won the militants any sympathy from a country still
reeling from the tsunami. The Thai press has correctly
heaped scorn on "heartless" militants who continue attacks
while fellow Muslims in neighboring provinces are still
suffering from the disaster. But the RTG's consideration of
a new Army division is not a hopeful sign for the region.
While the security situation continues to deteriorate in the
south it is not clear how adding more troops (and another
cumbersome, confusing layer) to the already disjointed
southern security structure will lessen the violence. If
anything the presence of more security forces in the South
will likely exacerbate already high levels of local
resentment against the Thai military and Police, which has
only increased following the events at Tak Bai in October,


2004.



7. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: The focus on Islamic teachers
may be yielding information, but it is an approach that
resonates badly with the local Muslim population in the deep
South. The announcement that "politicians" are behind some
of the violence in the South is probably an allusion to
long-standing rumors in the south that members of the
"Vaddah" (Unity) faction of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (TRT)
party are using the violence for their own political ends.
These rumors have never been substantiated and this public
announcement needs to be considered in the context of the
upcoming general election on February 6. END COMMENT
BOYCE