Friday, 23 May 2014

Coup in Thailand

Pepe Escobar: Thailand's coup in four minutes

Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar explains the military coup in Thailand: Bangkok elites, militaries and former PM in a power struggle. Pepe calls it a 'soft coup' but warns of what might happen next.

Here Come More US Sanctions: The Full Thai Turmoil Timeline

Zero Hedge,
22 May, 2014

Thailand is a prosperous nation with strong banks, modern factories, flourishing tourism, a growing middle class and other typical markers of a successful democracy. Which, as Bloomberg explains, is exactly what it lacks. Thailand has had so many coups in its modern history that scholars sometimes refer to the last 82 years as its “coup season.” In between, violent political strife has been chronic. The latest round features deadly street clashes, politically tainted corruption trials and the army taking control after an election derailed by protests. In contrast to political activists almost everywhere, the ones in Thailand are demanding less democracy... and this is the timeline of events that led to the latest 'coup'. What is perhaps more troublesome for a nation desperately seeking allies, under US law, sanctions are triggered if a country receiving military aid suffers a coup.

The Arguments behind the unrest...(via Bloomberg)

Bangkok’s urban middle class and royalist elite have resisted ceding control after Thaksin drew rural voters to the polls, swelling turnout to more than 75 percent in the last two elections. The protesters reject the idea that they’re thwarting democracy, saying the damaged political system can only produce a credible government after it’s swept clean of Thaksin’s influence. His supporters, enraged by the way their repeated victories have been overturned, have joined the cycle of stalemates and sporadic violence. A gradual accommodation might involve more power-sharing with regional governments, though that could take a generation or more. 
The worst outcome could be a breakup of the country or even a civil war. While the 86-year-old king, whose portrait hangs in most homes and shops, has intervened in the past to calm his subjects, he’s seen as too ill to do so now.

The Timeline of events...

Thailand’s army chief declares military coup today, the 12th in the country since 1932.
  * May 22:
    * Army Chief Prayuth announces on national TV he is seizing control of country, detaining leaders of rival political groups at meeting mean to resolve crisis
    * 10pm-5am curfew imposed
  * May 20:
    * Martial law declared; army chief says move isn’t a coup
  * May 12:
    * Security officials tighten security, say they will arrest protest leaders seeking to install appointed PM
  * May 7:
    * Constitutional Court removes Prime Minister Yingluck from office, finding her guilty of abuse of power related to 2011 transfer of a top security official; ~10 cabinet members involved in 2011 transfer also step down
    * Pheu Thai Party selects Niwattumrong as acting premier until elections
  * May 1
    * Govt, Election Commission reach agreement to hold new general elections on July 20
  * April 2
    * Constitutional Court agrees to hear case against Yingluck
  * March 31
    * Yingluck appears before National Anti-Corruption Commission to defend against charges of dereliction of duty for role in rice subsidy program
  * March 29:
    * Senate vote held amid low turnout
  * March 27
    * NACC rejects Yingluck’s request for 45-day extension to March 31 deadline over hearing of rice program
    * NACC hit by blast; police found weapons in pro-govt protest camp nearby
  * March 22
    * Suthep plans nationwide rally to pressure on Yingluck to resign
  * March 21
    * Constitutional Court rules Feb. election invalid
    * New election may take at least 3 mos.
  * March 19
    * Thai Cabinet lifts emergency decree ahead of expiration on March 23
  * March 13
    * Yingluck gets additional 15 days to defend accusations over rice program
  * March 12
    * Constitutional Court rejects PM Yingluck’s 2t baht infrastructure bill
  * March 11
    * 34-year-old man was injured by explosion near Lumpini park
  * March 7
    * 31-year old woman was injured by gunshot near Lumpini park, where anti-govt demonstrators camp
  * March 3:
    * 2 grenades were thrown into Criminal Court in Bangkok, no injuries
  * March 2:
    * By-election held in 5 provinces without violence
  * Feb. 23:
    * Blast in Bangkok’s shopping district killed 3 people
  * Feb. 22:
    * Five-year-old girl was killed in protest site at Trat province
  * Feb. 19:
    * Thai court ordered govt not to use force to contain demonstrations
  * Feb. 18:
    * Clash between protesters and police killed 5 and injured at least 69
  * Feb. 2:
    * Thai voters cast ballots across almost 90% of the country
  * Jan. 26:
    * Thai protester shot and killed
  * Jan. 21:
    * Yingluck declared 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok
  * Jan. 19:
    * Two explosions occurred in central Bangkok, injuring at least 28
  * Jan. 18:
    * One person died after grenade attack on protest rally on Jan. 17
  * Jan. 13:
    * Protesters began blocking major intersections in Bangkok on 1st day of “Bangkok shutdown”
  * Dec. 28:
    * Army chief refused to rule out possibility of coup
One man shot dead, 3 people hurt during protest outside govt offices in Bangkok
  * Dec. 26:
One person killed and 96 injured as protesters tried to stop candidates registering for election
  * Dec. 9:
    * Yingluck dissolved house; and elections to be held on Feb. 2 according to royal decree
  * Dec. 5:
    * King Bhumibol Adulyadej, celebrating his 86th birthday, didn’t directly comment on unrest; protests suspended
  * Dec. 4:
    * Thai Navy Chief said military won’t stage coup
  * Dec. 1:
    * Protesters entered Yingluck’s office; four killed in clash
    * Govt declared curfew in Bangkok, last was imposed in 2010
  * Nov. 30:
    * Two students injured from gunshot after clash with govt. supporters
  * Nov. 26:
    * Protesters blocked access to Transport Ministry
    * Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Suthep
  * Nov. 25:
    * Protesters entered Finance Ministry compound
  * Nov. 11:
    * Senate voted 141-0 to reject amnesty bill
  * Nov. 1:
    * Lower house passed amnesty bill
  * Oct. 31:
    * Opposition said as many as 50,000 people joined  protests, police said number was 8,000
  * Oct. 28:
    * Parliamentary committee approved amnesty bill
    * Govt planned to pursue charges against former PM Abhisit and his former deputy Suthep

And here come US Sanctions...

Six months of never-ending political crisis, with street protests which left more than two dozen people dead including three in a gun and grenade attack, eventually led to the powerful generals' decision to seize the reins of power in a coup after imposing martial law and apparently contradicting early claims the move was just an apolitical measure "to keep peace and order".

The problem with 'admitting' it's a coup...

Thailand's longstanding ally the US, has already called for a return to civilian rule,  warning it expects the army to "honour its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence and not undermine democratic institutions".
Under US laws, sanctions are triggered if a country receiving American military aid suffers a coup. In a previous Thai military coup (2006), US froze military assistance for a year-and-a-half.
The coup may also push the US to cut military assistance to Thailand. Human Rights Watch criticised the Obama administration for failing to call for the immediate reversal of martial law.

And while the general has already banned media from discussing the coup, he has now introduced another rule...
This will not end well...

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