Tag Archives: muslim insurgents

Forgotten Tragedy Of Somalia

The world is concerned with a financial crisis, angry words are exchanged between the United States and Russia and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has worsened relations between Pakistan and its supposed allies. But, it is the rare newspaper which will mention anything about the turmoil in Somalia whose inhabitants enter still another decade of violence and brutality. At least 29 civilians were killed and more than 60 wounded in fresh mortar exchanges in the nation’s capital city of Mogadishu. Muslim insurgents clashed with African Union troops and fighting escalated when insurgents tried to close down the city’s airport. Reports are confused as to whether insurgent or government forces did which killing. Of course, to the dead it is irrelevant who killed them.

It is clear that artillery shells killed many people and these undoubtedly were fired by government forces. Somalia had enough chaos until President Bush urged an Ethiopian invasion of the Muslim nation. At present, insurgents are fighting against African Union, Somalian, and Ethiopian troops. In the meantime, civilians try their best to continue living.

Thailand Denies Talks With Muslim Insurgents

Yesterday, we cited an Indonesian source which claimed there had been secret negotiations between the government of Thailand and Muslim insurgents in southern regions of the country. It now appears the Thai team that took part in discussions with insurgent representatives acted in a private capacity and were without any official government support. Former General Kwanchart Kiaharn led the talks as part of his effort to resolve the insurgency without resort to military action. There was also speculation those representing the Muslim militants were not even official representatives of the Muslim community.

Failure to pay attention to demands from Muslims in south Thailand to have their rights acknowledged has only resulted in an ongoing conflict for which there is not the slightest evidence it will soon conclude. The private initiatives should have been those of government.

Thailand Government Reaches Accord With Muslims

Thailand has witnessed a revolt in southern areas of the nation who are overwhelming Muslims and who have been demanding equal rights from the dominant majority who adhere to the Buddha religion. Thai leaders have been utilizing military action as a means of crushing the rebellion and the only result has been a rise in violence. The government of Indonesia agreed to host a peace conference which included representatives from southern Thailand and the Thai government. Both sides pledged to resolve their conflict in a peaceful manner. A spokesperson for the government emphasized, “we have made substantial progress during the negotiation with both sides expressing commitment to end the conflict.” The meeting was the first time these opposing forces ever sat down to discuss issues.

There is never a guarantee discussions will ever result in peaceful resolution of problems, but it at least ends violence and killing. Southern Thailand has witnessed violence against teachers and businessmen and innocent farmers by the Muslim insurgents. These discussions are a happy change from what has been done in the past.

Philippine Government Dissolves Peace Process

The Philippine government over the past few years has been attempting to negotiate with Muslim insurgents in an effort to resolve problems with its Islamic citizens. President Gloria Arroyo announced yesterday she was dissolving the government peace panel which has been seeking to end the Muslim rebellion in southern Mindanao. Filipino officials made clear the president was ending negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MLF). “the president has ordered that the government peace panel for talks with the MLF be dissolved.” The MLF assumes ending the peace panel means the government will now focus on military action in order to achieve its goals of controlling Mindanao.

A key issue in the decision to dissolve the peace panel centers around an earlier agreement President Arroyo signed that would have turned control of Muslim areas over to the MLF. Some MLF forces attacked troops and killed about 100 which has infuriated the nation. It is still uncertain whether the president is merely using the time period to send more troops into the area or whether there will be a redesigned effort for peaceful negotiations. A major complaint has been failure on the part of Arroyo to involve local leaders and members of the Philippine legislature in the entire peace process.

Muslims In Thailand Offer Cease Fire

The United States and European nations tend to focus on terrorism as it pertains to the Middle East or to regions on the border of Pakistan, but few are concerned with the long term Muslim insurgency in Thailand. The people of Thailand are overwhelming Buddhist, but southern provinces have always been populated by people with Muslim backgrounds. For years there has been continual guerrilla warfare conducted by these Islamic insurgent groups. Thailand’s Army chief, General Anupong Paojinda has refused to negotiate with insurgents and disregarded the latest offer of a cease fire. He does not believe those claiming to speak for Muslim insurgents really have the power to enter into negotiations.

In a pre-recorded video broadcast by the army run Channel 5 television station, three unnamed Muslim men claimed to represent 11 insurgent groups and announced their intention of halting all attacks in the three southern provinces. They indicated a desire to proceed with a peace process. General Anupong admitted he was taken by surprise by men who boasted they represented the Thailand United Southern Underground(TSSU).

The Muslim rebels initially made their offer of a cease fire to General Chettha who leads a coalition party rather than directly dealing with Thai leaders. General Chettha said the insurgents do represent a sizable portion of those fighting the government. The video was made in Germany.

A solution to the Muslim insurgency most probably requires political concessions such as increased local autonomy and economic incentives for southern provinces.

Violence In South Thailand Reaches New Level

The long simmering conflict in southern Thailand took another turn with the introduction of car bombing to the area. Muslims in the southern provinces of Thailand have been engaged in active violence during the past few years in order to compel the government to adhere to demands for policial, economic, an social changes. Up to this point, the Muslim insurgents have resorted to ambushes, kidnapping and use of mines to get across their demands. However, over the weekend, unprecedented use of car bombs in Pattani and Yala left three people dead and many injured. Authorities beleive the use of car bombs represents a dramatic new turn in insurgent tactics.

The commander of the task force dealing with separatist attacks, Tawatchai Samutsakhon, responded to the car bombs by claiming they reflect his success in crushng the militants which has forced them to turn to car bombings. One of the bombings took place at the CS Pattani hotel which is frequented by government officials. Crown Prince Maha Vajialongkorn sent a basket of fruit to one of the victims. There probably is need for instituting reforms that will address concerns of Muslims in the south and a basket of fruit certainly will not be sufficient.