Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 13: The Malay-Muslim Insurgency in Southern Thailand
Thitinan Pongsudhirak Introduction: conceptualizing the problem The resurgence of separatist violence that ﬂared up in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim southernmost border provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat from 4 January 2004 has spawned a cottage industry of academic analyses.1 While the intensifying spate of violence has been vivid and well publicized, its nature, dynamics, direction and near-term ramiﬁcations have remained remarkably murky. Although a growing number of studies, including a handful of book-length expositions,2 have stimulated debate about the causes and consequences of the violence, few have been widely accepted. Two primary accounts by the International Crisis Group, which drew heavily on substantiated ﬁrst-hand accounts in the ﬁeld, arguably have been the most persuasive and resonant among the mushrooming research community interested in Southern Thailand.3 Other studies have been seen by some as excessively focused on domestic political factors,4 and by others as overly skewed towards regional and international linkages to the violence.5 On the other hand, a number of studies have usefully tried to tease out both the domestic and international dimensions of the violence.6 This short chapter is intended to contextualize the prolonged and protracted violence in southern Thailand. It is not a deﬁnitive account but a modest attempt to provide a brief backdrop for those who are relatively uninitiated. The insurgent violence whose aims range from greater administrative autonomy to outright separatism in Southern Thailand against the Thai state is triangulated between historiography, domestic politics and external involvement, with considerable overlap. An understanding of...
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