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No Going Back Now for Thailand: Coup Coming?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
January 10, 2014

A man holds up a poster during an anti-violence campaign in central Bangkok on January 10, 2014.(Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters) A man holds up a poster during an anti-violence campaign in central Bangkok on January 10, 2014.(Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)


The planned shutdown for Bangkok on Monday Thai time, which is supposed to paralyze the capital, is but the latest in a series of anti-government protests held around the capital. But as I wrote earlier this week, all sides now are becoming more extreme, and I see no reason to think that this week will be peaceful. Instead, both the hard-core of the protest movement and some officers among the pro-red shirt police force are itching for an open conflict in the streets. This, I think, is likely to occur next week, and I expect both some of the protesters and many of the most aggressive—and, frankly, stupid—police to break out weaponry, including potentially even live ammunition.

This violent confrontation, of course, is exactly what the leaders of the anti-government demonstrations want, and not what the caretaker government wants—or what most Thais, including most Bangkokians want. (A fine recent article in Khao Sod shows that most Thais do not want this kind of confrontation in Bangkok.) But at this point the caretaker government has less and less control over the hardest-core elements of the police force, and though the Yingluck government thus far has exercised a high level of restraint in dealing with the protesters, basically allowing the demonstrators to do largely whatever they want, I don’t know that the government can stop the coming confrontation.

And the end game, I think, is going to be a coup. I did not think so a month ago, but it seems highly likely now. A coup would be a tragedy, and even more dangerous and retrograde than in 2006, but it seems to be coming now.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Will Greene

    What might the aftermath of a coup look like?

  • Posted by Frank Fariello

    I have to agree that a coup would be the only “sensible” solution. Afterall, how many coups have there been since 1932?

    From where does Suthep get his support and money? He must have supporters in “high places”. Is it true that he was forced to resign a govt post in the late 90s due to corruption??

    Many ordinary folks in Bangkok are hurting due to all this nonsense i.e. lie all the ordinary folks who work in hotels and the service industry. It seems as if Suthep and his gang have a scorched earth policy and dont really care about the “little people”.

  • Posted by Kris Raddhanasuriya

    Until today, Suthep PDRC got 7 rally stages that close 7 main intersection in the middle of BKK downtown. Many ppl joined the rally especially by evening onward due to very strong hot sunlight daytime. Suthep still demand all his supporters to continue non violence demonstration even PDRC was attacked by 3 grenades that made 1 died with many injured last week. There were medical service units of the army with no weapon located around rally sites. No sign of coup now. Even PDRC themselves everyday talk also anti the coup and they annouce to against all possible coup if happen.
    PDRC demands PM Yingluck to resign from caretaker position because she and her associates refusal to accept charter court ruling at least 2 cases and also from big corruption case in fake G2G rice selling from pledging scheme. Yingluck always say she came from election and act like only she and PT party monopolize democracy in Thailand. No other organization or group of people can fight for Thailand democracy like her side. PDRC tried much to tell her that election doesn’t mean approval to do corruption of violate the constitution.
    As a Bangkokian, I agree with PDRC to have election after reformation. And our reformation shouldn’t be complete by having corrupted on the position of caretaker cabinet. We want their contribution to step down and give chance us to have no intervene for reformation. Yes, main purpose of reform must be mechanism to protect vast corruption circle like we have today. By the way, we have to decentralize people power to provincial as much as possible. Whatever provincial ppl elect to the parliament must not effect to the province budget anymore.
    Coup is only in paranoid imagination of all pro government side now. If you have chance, please come and join the candle lover white shirt (redshirt transformer) for anti coup ceremony every evening all around Thailand now.

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