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Asia Watch: The next round in Thai south

In the wake of a Thai-Malaysian leaders summit and the appointment of new negotiators, official pronouncements of a “new era” in the peace process sound premature.

Thailand, Israel defence ties highlight Jerusalem’s increasing focus on Asia

Ties between Israel and Thailand increased last week following a visit to Israel by Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, which culminated in the signing of an intelligence pact between the two countries.

According to the report in the print edition of Friday's Bangkok Post, Thai and Israeli defence ministries have signed a non-disclosure agreement over classified information on intelligence, military and security.

"The agreement is part of the two countries' cooperation on security issues. We also agreed to exchange information on anti-terrorism operations,'' Sukumpol told the paper.

According to the story, a Thai military source added that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak offered his mine-clearing and other military technology to the Thai Defence Ministry to help Thailand cope with ongoing violence in the country's south.

The visit came in the wake of a terror explosion in Bangkok on February 14 which wounded five people. The bombers, reportedly linked to Hezbollah, allegedly intended to attack Israeli diplomats in the city.

Thailand’s slow-burn insurgency heats up

On March 31, a series of coordinated bombings, the likes that have not been seen since 2007, rocked the Southern Thai cities of Yala and Hat Yai.

These attacks were spectacular and garnered both domestic and international media attention. While a wakeup call to the international community and the Thai political elite, the attacks do not portend the insurgency entering into a new stage, but rather they are a reminder of a conflict that is now in its ninth year; a slow-burn insurgency in the heart of prosperous Southeast Asia, which has claimed the lives of 5,100 people, wounded approximately 9,000 in more than 11,000 incidents of violence.

 

Australian terror twist following arrest in India for embassy attack

Delhi Police have arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, a Shi'ite with connections to Iran for his alleged role in facilitating the February 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy car. See previous AIJAC blog post on background on the attack.

Interestingly, reporting on this arrest has featured discussion of a previous alleged plot by Iranian proxies to prepare terror attacks in Australia...

Asia Watch: The Old Bogeyman

One of the most reliable indices of political heat in Malaysia is when the spectre of Jews or Israel is invoked to discredit domestic political enemies. That no instance seems too far-fetched is an interesting indicator of how Jews are perceived in a country with no Jewish population of its own - a fantasy notion of Jewish omnipotence, antisemitism or probably a combination of both.

Asia Watch: A Fork In The Road

Either the prime minister's suite or a prison cell awaits Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, depending on how events play out over the coming months.

Thai-ed Down

On 4 January 2004, a group of armed men raided a Thai Army camp. They were equipped with acetylene torches and bolt cutters; in all they made off with more than 300 M-16s, ammunition and other weaponry. It is the date most commonly used to mark the current manifestation of the insurgency in Thailand's restive south, dominated by Muslim Malays.

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