Two days of academic discussion starting August 21st about unrest in the Deep South shed little light on why the conflict has continued for over a decade – or whether efforts to rekindle last year's failed peace talks will succeed.
Peace Research Institute Oslo analyst Stein Tønnesson presented an overview of how East Asia managed to transform itself since WWII from one of the world's deadliest armed conflict regions to one of the world's most peaceful.
Tønnesson questioned International Conference on Communication, Conflicts and Peace Processes attendees why a Thailand relatively peaceful for decades, now trends in the opposite direction.
He also declared a tactical flaw in how Deep South insurgents seek to achieve their goals.
"Why did they decide on the campaign we have seen, with killings of teachers , assassinations of Malay Muslims seen as collaborators, almost daily bombings – and no declared leadership?" he asked. "Why has that tactic been chosen, despite the fact that it is highly unlikely to succeed?"
The Oslo analyst said armed conflicts tend to be less effective over time, whereas unarmed conflicts can create "divisions in ruling elites that can lead to change".
Internal Security Operations Command Region 5 Director Nakrob Boonbuathong said last year's peace negotiations with insurgents failed due to the lack of a unified stance among Thai military and government leaders as well as the deteriorating political situation in Bangkok that ultimately ended with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) taking powerin mid-May.
"After signing the initial agreement, people divided into three groups. The first approved of the agreement, the second wanted to wait to see how events would develop. The last group, comprised mostly of military leaders, disagreed with it," he said.
Thai PBS senior editor Sermsak Kasitipradit told Khabar Southeast Asia peace talks might resume soon.
"I talked to one senior army officer who is an advisor to the National Security Council. He said next week National Security Council Secretary General Thawil Pliensri is expected to travel to Malaysia to ask his counterparts to serve as facilitators. After that, I think a new round of talks could follow," he said.