Series of bombings in Thailand: What’s going on and who is responsible?

After series of explosions Thai police is talking about local saboteurs. How do you see the situation, who may want to increase tensions in the country, and why? Read few comments.

Aim Sinpeng, Lecturer, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

What we know:
– The bombings clearly targeted tourist destinations and it seemed clear those responsible wanted to shake confidence in the country.
– These smaller bombings happen frequently in the deep south of Thailand,  where insurgencies have raged on for over a decade. But they rarely happen in Hua Hin or Phuket. Note that these were smaller bombs so even though they look like coordinated attacks, it’s likely they are work of clandestine groups or local cell networks.
– Today is Mother’s Day in Thailand, a public holiday, many people are out with their families. Clear indication of instilling fear.

Who might be responsible?
– The Thai authorities are quick to dismiss any links to the passage of controversial referendum on the constitutional draft which took place Aug 7. I would not rule out anything at this stage.
– Thai authorities seem certain the bombings were from domestic groups and not part of international terrorist groups.  Again I would not rule out anything at this stage.

It’s important to follow how the government will handle the situation from now. Everyone will expect the government to come up with answers really quickly. The worry would be a scapegoating of some mind since the investigation might not be transparent.

It’s too early to say who is behind the attacks but they show clear signs of co-ordination and appear to be a politically motivated attempt to demonstrate that the ruling junta – the National Council for Peace and Order – is struggling to maintain both peace and order. The timing is clearly not coincidental. These are definitely not random attacks of local sabotage

Duncan McCargo, Professor of Southeast Asian Politics, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

It’s too early to say who is behind the attacks but they show clear signs of co-ordination and appear to be a politically motivated attempt to demonstrate that the ruling junta – the National Council for Peace and Order – is struggling to maintain both peace and order. The timing is clearly not coincidental. These are definitely not random attacks of local sabotage.

Michael Montesano, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)

Someone has really set out to do damage to the Thai tourism sector, one of the few sectors of the economy in good condition. The specific targets chosen also reflect familiarity with that sector. It is too early to say who might be responsible, but these fires and bombing will underline both to Thais and to foreigners just how unstable Thailand is under its military dictatorship and in the last stage of the long reign of King Bhumibol. What also merits attention is whether the ruling junta will, aping Mr Erdogan, use these attacks as a pretext to resort to even greater repression.

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