Western consider tanks have been increasingly bustling cultivating a account to explain the remarkable and swelling participation of militants related or fighting under the ensign of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) opposite Southeast Asia.
This account – these consider tanks would have audiences trust – entails militants journey Syria and Iraq, and entrenching themselves amid presumably narrow-minded conflicts in Southeast Asia. The consider tanks conveniently never discuss how tens of thousands of militants are appropriation the logistical attainment compulsory to pierce them to Southeast Asia or means their belligerent operations in the segment once they arrive.
Among these consider tanks is the ostensible International Crisis Group (ICG). In its report, “Jihadism in southern Thailand – A haunt menace,” it claims:
The decrease of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the appearance of ISIS-linked assault in South East Asia attest the probability of a new epoch of transnational jihadist terrorism in the region.
Recurring, despite unsubstantiated, reports about ISIS activity in Thailand have stirred questions about the disadvantage of the country’s Muslim-majority low south and, in particular, its longstanding Malay-Muslim rebellion to jihadist influence.
While ICG claims that “to date” there is no justification that ISIS has done inroads in southern Thailand, it warns:
But the dispute and a series of ISIS scares in Thailand are fanning fears of a new belligerent threat. Such fears are not irrational, yet they are mostly unnoticed and should not problematic the difficulty of the rebellion and the need to finish it.
Direct talks between mutinous leaders and the supervision are a priority; a decentralised domestic complement could help residence the principal grievances in the south while preserving the unitary Thai state.
In essence, ICG is warning of a predicament it itself admits is unlikely, then recommends that Bangkok pursue a march of movement it already is holding – articulate with belligerent leaders in its southern many provinces.
The extensive ICG report – in reality – is just one of many reoccurring and intentional attempts to place the idea of ISIS militancy holding bottom in Thailand into the area of possibility. Just as the US and its allies have used ISIS as a geopolitical apparatus elsewhere in the world, and some-more recently, in Southeast Asia itself – quite in the Philippines – a longstanding US idea in Thailand is to find and attainment sociopolitical and narrow-minded error lines opposite which to divide, destroy, and control the Thai state.
It was in a 2012 leaded memo drafted by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that certified the US and its allies sought the origination of what it called at the time a “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State), privately in eastern Syria where eventually ISIS would bottom itself before corner Russian-Iranian-Syrian operations uprooted and diminished them.
The 2012 report (.pdf) states privately (emphasis added):
Thus, if ISIS is a geopolitical apparatus first designed and deployed by the US and its allies to subvert, isolate, and overpower the supervision of Syria, it follows that ISIS’ expansion into other regions of the universe US unfamiliar policy is confronting increasingly indomitable challenges is also very much designed and fueled by US policymakers and the special interests that unite them.
If the conditions unravels there is the possibility of substantiating a announced or undeclared Salafist realm in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is accurately what the ancillary powers to the antithesis want, in sequence to besiege the Syrian regime, which is deliberate the vital abyss of the Shia enlargement (Iraq and Iran).
Who is the ICG and Why are They Promoting ISIS Fear?
ICG is a corporate-funded and destined policy consider tank and network that creates and leverages conflicts under the guise of “preventing” them.
It claims on its website that:
Crisis Group aspires to be the preeminent organization providing eccentric investigate and recommendation on how to prevent, solve or better conduct lethal conflict. We mix consultant margin research, investigate and rendezvous with policymakers opposite the universe in sequence to outcome change in the predicament situations on which we work. We attempt to speak to all sides and in doing so to build on the role as a devoted source of field-centred information, fresh perspectives and recommendation for dispute parties and outmost actors.
Yet a demeanour at its sponsors and membership reveals a Westerners-only bar of corporate-financier special interests, lobbying groups, lawyers, and politicians related directly to the US State Department, the UK Foreign Office, or governments gratified to possibly or both.
These sponsors embody oil giants Chevron, Eni, Noble Energy, Shell, Statoil, and British Petroleum (BP). It also includes financiers such as HSBC Holdings, MetLife, and RBC Capital Markets.
There is also the matter of law firms and lobbyists which fund and are directly concerned in ICG’s bulletin including Sherman Sterling, White Chase, APCO Worldwide, and Edelman.
APCO Worldwide is scandalous for fabricating news articles to manipulate center corporate governance, while Edelman is scandalous privately per Thailand for providing lobbying services (PDF) to suspended tyrant Thaksin Shinawatra, private from energy in 2006 around a military manoeuvre ICG itself vehemently opposed, condemned, and to this day protests.
Edelman’s lobbying for Thaksin Shinawatra was headed by Kenneth Adelman, who assimilated Edelman as a comparison adviser in 2001. Not only is Edelman a corporate unite of ICG, but Kenneth Adelman himself is listed in the appendixes of ICG’s Thailand report as a comparison ICG adviser. Adelman also chairs the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) subsidiary, Freedom House – another front alongside Washington and London-based lobbyists that have pressured Thailand since the ousting of Shinawatra in 2006.
Listed along with Adelman is George Soros who sits on ICG’s house of trustees. Soros’ Open Society Foundation is listed by ICG as one of its sponsors.
Soros and his Open Society Foundation’s impasse is essential to note. Virtually all of Thailand’s “opposition” groups – from ostensible tyro and educational fronts to media platforms and activists – are saved by both NED and George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. These embody Prachatai, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Thai Netizens, the New Democracy Movement (NDM), Human Rights Watch Thailand, Amnesty International Thailand, iLaw, the Isaan Record, and many more.
The accordant efforts by ICG, its corporate sponsors by lobbying, and among its memberships several other associations like Freedom House and Open Society to attack and criticise Thailand in preference of the West’s substitute of choice – Thaksin Shinawatra and the vast and flourishing antithesis front the West is building inside Thailand – already raises suspicions about ICG’s proclivity in edition its many new report per ISIS in Thailand.
Observing Western efforts against Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbors, quite Myanmar and the Philippines, raises suspicions even further.
The United States has expertly cultivated a lethal narrow-minded sequence in Myanmar – branch jingoist extremists against the nation’s Rohingya minority and using the ensuing assault to criticise the nation’s military while moving Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) into power. The assault also compromises constructive mercantile and tactful ties between Myanmar and China.
In the Philippines, ISIS-linked militants managed to seize an whole city in the nation’s southern region. The money, weapons, and militants compulsory for this attainment clearly compulsory state sponsorship. Just as in Syria, ISIS in the Philippines is related to Saudi Arabia which serves as an surrogate for US money, weapons, supplies, and directives.
The conflicts in both Myanmar and the Philippines has given the US the commencement in portion as “mediator” in Myanmar, and providing “military assistance” in the Philippines. Both moves offer to give Washington a tighter hold over both nations at a time when the whole of Southeast Asia moves offer out from under the shade of US omnipotence and into a some-more constructive and jointly profitable welcome with Beijing.
Thailand – since of its vast economy, population, and geostrategic plcae at the core of continental Southeast Asia – would offer US interests good in reasserting omnipotence over Asia Pacific and formulating a unfastened front against Beijing. However, Thailand – since of its eccentric institutions, quite its military and kingdom – enjoys a turn of togetherness its neighbors do not.
Under Thaksin Shinawatra, the US sought to attainment sociopolitical and category error lines. As this fails, it appears the US is trying to use the very same networks of “reds” to stoke the same arrange of jingoist passion that has consumed adjacent Myanmar. “Reds,” referring to Shinawatra’s ultra-violent United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) street front, have already begun changeable activity toward temples to favour a formerly nonexistent Buddhist-Muslim divide.
Image: Networks related to US-backed suspended tyrant Thaksin Shinawatra have switched from category crusade to Islamophobia in a bid to divide, destroy, and co-opt the Thai state.
Soros-funded fronts like Prachatai posing as “rights advocates” have decried quick and wilful moves by the Thai military to catch and defrock “monks” attempting to promote narrow-minded violence.
To bookend US efforts to operative a narrow-minded sequence in Thailand, it appears that organizations like ICG are formulating a account to explain soon-to-be ISIS activity in Thailand. The offensive inlet of ISIS operations will play good into the anti-Islam promotion promoted by US-backed networks in Thailand’s northeast. Somewhere in the center – US policymakers wish – a self-sustaining “clash of civilizations” can be sparked, and devour Thailand’s historically considerable inhabitant unity.
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Once divided, Thailand will be some-more simply coerced toward US objectives in Thailand and opposite the wider region.
What Thailand Should Really Do
The militancy in southern Thailand is contained. The Thai supervision must continue existent efforts to bring socioeconomic swell to the segment to empty the swamps of misery and viewed misapplication that drives recruitment into belligerent organizations. But over that, Bangkok must brand and bargain with the logistical inlet of the conflict, quite those concerned in arming, training, and appropriation the militancy.
Image: Thai-Muslims have constructively contributed to the Thai state both in past and in the benefaction and lived, worked, and played corresponding Buddhists and the physical but occurrence for generations.
To preemptively stop efforts by the US to raise the conflict, the supervision would advantage from Singapore-style hatred debate legislation which creates attempts by groups to promote narrow-minded assault unfit but receiving evident and serious jail sentences.
Simultaneously, efforts to offer promote interfaith understanding, mutual respect, and activism would raise Thailand’s already eminent values of toleration and diversity. Many Thais are already wakeful of the constructive role members of the Thai Muslim community have played in Thailand’s history. There is already certain cross-cultural exchanges that occur incidentally bland in Thailand’s markets and among its many street vendors. Highlighting and enhancing this will help offer inject the open from attempts to sequence and destroy the republic along narrow-minded lines.
Also, the supervision must display and impede efforts by US NED and Open Society-funded fronts. Citing the US’ own fashion in forcing Russia’s RT to register as “foreign agents,” the Thai supervision could order imperative disclosures in all social media profiles and at the commencement and finish of every announcement in imitation or online – including social media posts – by fronts like Prachatai indicating who supports them and why.
Finally, bargain that ISIS’ source of strength came from networks propped up by the US and its allies means that fighting an ISIS militancy in Thailand starts with bargain that the US Embassy represents the very source of the militancy’s strength. Rather than fostering a approach fight with the United States, choice Thai media could couple ISIS activity directly and regularly with the US embassy – ensuring any belligerent act is immediately related to guess of the US Embassy.
The some-more growth US-sponsored terrorism that unfolds, the some-more US credit in Thailand and in the segment will suffer.
Finally, when seeking allies in a loyal “War on Terror,” Bangkok should favour ties with nations that are truly waging fight on terror. This includes China, Russia, and Iran.
When the US starts losing and being released henceforth everywhere it brings its “War on Terror,” policymakers in Washington will possibly be held accountable and the tactic abandoned, or the US itself will find itself as removed and irrelevant as it has tried to make nations like Syria and Iraq on which it first unleashed its ISIS menace.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, generally for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”, where this essay first appeared.