Since January 2004, the violence in the southern provinces in Thailand has claimed more than 4,600 lives. The violence has also adversely affected the local economy and quality of life in the southern provinces. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation is dividing the society on religious lines with growing apprehension that what began as a separatist nationalist conflict might well end up as a clash between Buddhism and Islam. There is also a strong potential for the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand to get sucked into the global jihad. Gunaratna and Acharya provide a short history of the conflict, which dates at least to the early 1900s, as well as an analysis of factors contributing to the most recent escalation of violence in 2004. The authors shed light on the causes of the Southern Thai conflict and examine its potential to spread from Thailand to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. A strong potential also exists for this predominantly localised conflict to get absorbed into the global jihad. In addition to analysing the insurgents’capabilities and opportunities, the authors provide a critique of government policies and make astute suggestions for resolving the conflict.
Last updated on 27/07/2020