Wednesday :: Nov 3, 2004

Terror In Thailand

by pessimist

A new front in terrorism opened up while the world was distracted by the American presidential election. It's not been a secret - I've covered this in the past. But it has reached a boiling point, and there is no longer any room for polite discourse. No more will the actions be seen as 'unfortunate mistakes'. It's war.

Why should we care about Thailand and its Islamic strife? Because we have business ties there. Every place America does business somehow gets us involved in the local difficulties. You know these problems are getting very serious when the local authorities issue tourist travel advisories. Here's an article issued through an American travel magazine which plays down the troubles.

Remember what Georgie told us to do after 9/11? It's no different with this. We're being advised that the Thai troubles are not important enough to disrupt the tourist trade. 'Spend! Travel! All's well! Enjoy! We've got terrorism on the run!

Will we soon begin to see terrified tourist hostages pleading for their lives in Thailand?


'Muslim insurgents' kill seven in Thailand
Thursday, November 4, 2004

It's growing worse - and quickly!

Back in April, Islamic troubles flared up when Muslims fought Thai security forces over arms taken from an arsenal in January and were used in attacks upon Thai police stations and other government facilities. These attacks stem from frustrated separatist desires for the region - located at the lowest portion of the peninsula which connects Buddhist Thailand with Muslim Malaysia. The Muslim locals feel more connected through their religion to Malaysia than they do their current national affiliation, and since they are treated with disdain - the government originally attributed the troubles to 'local gang activity' - they have run out of peaceful actions and have turned to violence.

A Malaysian official recently had this to say:

Anwar warns southern Thailand could be next extremism flashpoint

Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Monday warned southern Thailand risked becoming a flashpoint for Islamic extremism, after 85 Muslims died there last week in a confrontation with the army. "If (violence) is allowed to go on and you leave it purely to security forces to handle the situation, this is certainly going to be a base for extremism," Anwar told The Associated Press. "Training of cadres for violence is certainly conducive in such an environment."

More than 400 people have been killed this year in the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani - the only Muslim-dominated provinces of predominantly Buddhist Thailand. The concern has been greater in Malaysia, which shares a border with southern Thailand. People on both sides are of the same ethnicity and speak the same language, and some Malaysian leaders worry that the violence could spill across the border.

The latest violence in the region over the deaths of these 85 Muslims was the revenge killing of a Thai elder:

The man found beheaded was a deputy village leader. Police in the Sukhirin district of Narathiwat province said he was thought to have been shot first, the Associated Press reported. His corpse was discovered more than 1km (0.6 miles) away from his head. He is the second Buddhist to be beheaded in the region in recent months. A hand-written note was found by the head, saying: "This is revenge for the innocent Muslim youths who were massacred at the Takbai protest," officials said.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference - an international organisation of 56 Muslim countries - has taken note of the troubles and is in support of what appear to be sincere government efforts to investigate these latest troubles. But if this investigation doesn't reach an effective conclusion, or if the government doesn't take the proper steps to end the violence, this support may shift away from the Thai government.

A Bit of background

Most Thai Muslims live in the five southern provinces bordering Malaysia. Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are the only Muslim majority provinces in the majority-Buddhist kingdom. Both Yala and Narathiwat were originally part of Pattani, but were split off and became provinces of their own.

The South was a rich Malay kingdom until it was overrun by the Buddhist kingdom of Siam in the late 16th century when it declared its full independence from its earlier status of semi-independence under the rule of the Thai kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

In 1909, it was annexed by the Kingdom of Siam as part of a treaty negotiated with the British Empire. Muslims in these provinces have long complained of discrimination in jobs and education and business opportunities.

Northern Ireland, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand - the same theme of the cause of unrest pops up. How many times do we have to travel down this raod until soneone figures out that without economic participation, civil unrest is a given???? Are we in America going to see the same thing should things turn bad enough in our economy thanks to Bu$hCo domestic policies?

But getting back to Thailand, their government doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Two Thai legislators got into a scuffle during a discussion of this latest violence, and Buddhist schools in the region have been warned to close in an effort to prevent another school tragedy like Beslan. This shows just how little control the government really has if they can only offer words while their actions enflame.

So how is this going to affect America? US multinational corporations are already messing with their economy:

Thailand is embroiled in the GMO controversy. The reason: In July, papayas engineered to resist viral fungi somehow got out of a lab and sprouted in hundreds of nearby farms. The leakage sparked a panic among local fruit farmers after environmental groups charged that doctored papayas had "contaminated" their fields. The uproar highlighted Thailand's ambivalent position on GMO technology, where confusing government policies simultaneously restrict and promote GMOs.

Now the country faces commercial pressure to clarify that mixed message. Last month, Germany announced bans on the import of Thai-produced canned fruits that contain papaya. Similar threats from Japanese diplomats in Bangkok forced Thai agriculture officials to ax the 1,000 or so papaya trees they had planted as part of an open-field trial.

Thailand's jarring experience shows how the growing global debate on GMOs fast is fragmenting global food markets and putting political pressure on food exporters to choose between producing natural or genetically modified food.
Genetically modified crops have made little headway on farms in Europe and Japan amid a debate about the safety of the technology.

The U.S., home to the world's largest biotechnology companies, including agribusiness giant Monsanto Co., is the world's chief advocate of spreading the technology into developing countries. . The U.S. government also has provided indirect financial support to Thailand's biotech drive, particularly through aid earmarked to help the government develop the regulatory and legal framework to patent, protect and export genetically modified products.

Big biotech companies that deal in GMOs are looking for growth opportunities in Asia to compensate for the problems they have encountered in European markets. For example, Monsanto recently put the world's first bioengineered wheat on hold amid concerns from food makers in Europe and Japan. Germany's Bayer AG and Switzerland's Syngenta AG recently have scaled back their GMO operations in Europe.

This is where it gets us in trouble:

Janet Cotter, a scientist at Britain's Exeter University who works with environmental group Greenpeace, notes that many GMO experiments have had unintended consequences. In particular, she points to an experiment conducted by Syngenta that aimed to enrich rice with more Vitamin A, but also mysteriously changed the grain's natural red color to yellow. "When these unexpected effects occur, it shows how big the knowledge gap really is," Ms. Cotter says. "That raises big questions about GM food safety."

Thailand earns a premium on its organically grown crops: British supermarket chain Tesco PLC pays extra for its chicken raised without GMO-based feed.

Some agriculture groups here fear that opening Thai food markets to GMOs eventually will make farmers dependent on multinationals for seeds and supplies. "To us, it's a matter of economic sovereignty," says Ubon Yuwaa, head of policy at the Alternative Agricultural Network in Khon Kaen, a nongovernmental organization opposed to GMOs.

In Thailand, where about 50% of the work force is involved in agriculture-related activities, those homegrown concerns historically have had political weight.

"I know how hard it is to put food on your family" - George W. Bu$h.

Sure, George. Go back to sleep until Unca Dickie needs you.

Now suppose something goes really wrong with these GMO experiments, and a famine develops. These farmers will know who to point the finger at should these crops fail in some manner that isn't something they are familiar with, even if the multinationals are truly blameless. If these starving famers happen to be Muslim, that will be one more sin of the Great Satan to be expiated, and the local Al Qaeda franchise gains more recruits.

Americans in Thailand have to be in some danger already, and should something like this hypothetical situation develop, it can only get worse. Governmental crackdowns have already produced a backlash, and escalation will only make things worse yet. Should things get worse, someone will feel that America should pay - and some poor slob trying to earn a living will lose his head over it.

There are a thousand world crises being aggravated by Bu$hCo. This is only one of them. Aren't you glad that we non-Bu$hCo Americans only have to get over losing yesterday's election to these ba$tard$?

[Standard 'Fair Use' statement goes here. At this rate, I'll have to write a new one!]

pessimist :: 7:01 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!