CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

Thailand and Cambodia Fighting Again Over Preah Vihear

by Joshua Kurlantzick
April 26, 2011

Cambodian soldiers walk at the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on the border between Thailand and Cambodia February 9, 2011.

Cambodian soldiers walk at the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on the border between Thailand and Cambodia February 9, 2011. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past week, fighting has flared again between Thailand and Cambodia over the disputed Preah Vihear border temple. Already, in the past week, at least thirteen people have been killed in the last week as the two sides have exchanged heavy rifle and mortar fire.

Now, this is a tragedy, of course – soldiers and civilians dying over a disputed UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one that has been fought over for decades. But as Bangkok Pundit notes in an interesting blog post, it is important to remember that there is a critical domestic component to this conflict. Thailand is facing national elections within the next two months, and the Thai military, which has over the past five years regained a central role in politics, wants to show that it alone can guard the nation’s security, and so deserves to continue playing that central role, rather than turning over power to real civilian rule.

The army has taken other steps recently to cement its power. Army chief Prayuth chan-Ocha increasingly has used the lèse majesté law to attack any government critics, explicitly putting the army in the center of the most important political battles in Thailand. Unfortunately, with Preah Vihear, this attempt by the Thai army is not only damaging Thailand’s reputation but also costing lives.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Michael

    Too bad the Thai military didn’t chose the Myanmar Junta to fight; that would have actually done some good.

  • Posted by Ta Penh

    It is sad to see the innocent suffer over this fighting. Maybe time for Thai stop bully it neighbor. Love

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required