mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Shinawatra Out!
Military Coup Looms in Thailand as Violence Flares

In the latest chapter of Thailand’s ongoing crisis, the acting Prime Minister was forced to flee a meeting after anti-government protesters overran the air force compound where he was holed up. He was there to meet other officials to decide whether or not to hold elections, as scheduled, in July. “We may have to push back the polls,” the Prime Minister admitted.

Three people were killed and dozens wounded elsewhere in Bangkok in the worst violence in the several-month old Thai crisis, which shows no sign of ending. A small group of armed men wielding guns and grenades attacked a group of anti-government protesters. As sporadic violence swept the capital, the head of the army, which has a penchant for coups, issued a stern warning to troublemakers: “I would like to warn all groups, especially those using weapons against innocent people, to immediately stop it, now. If the violence continues, soldiers could be forced to come out to end it in full force.”

Protesters were defiant. “There is no point standing in our way,” said the leader of the group that attacked the Prime Minister. “If, by Friday . . . the Senate fails to come up with a solution then the people may have to seize power and set up a people’s assembly on their own,” said Suthep Thaugsuban, a former member of parliament and the lead rabble-rouser among the anti-government protesters.

Thailand’s crisis is escalating to a potentially disastrous level. The anti-government protesters already overthrew their hated enemy, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose brother was deposed by an army coup in 2006. But they want more—they want the Shinawatra’s influence in Thai politics eradicated for good. Unfortunately for them, the Shinawatra’s supporters, usually called “red shirts,” are massing to defend their patron. Some are heavily armed. This could get ugly, fast.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service