Thaksin and the resurgence of violence in the Thai South: Network monarchy strikes back?
Rather than viewing the recent violence in the Thai South largely as a product of long-standing historical and socioeconomic grievances, this article argues that the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has played a crucial role in provoking conflict in the region. Early in his premiership, Thaksin decided that the South was controlled by forces of “network monarchy” loyal to the palace and to former prime minister Prem Tinsulanond. Thaksin sought to reorganize political and security arrangements in the deep South in order to gain personal control of the area, but in the process he upset a carefully negotiated social contract that had ensured relative peace for two decades. As the violence increased, royal displeasure — articulated mainly by members of the Privy Council — forced Thaksin to make certain concessions, notably the creation of a National Reconciliation Commission to propose solutions for the growing crisis. Network monarchy had struck back, albeit from a position of weakness. This analysis seeks to demonstrate that the southern violence is actually inextricable from wider developments in Thailand's national politics.
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