World View: Thailand's Army Seizes Power in Major Victory for 'Yellow Shirt' Elites

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites
  • A history of coups in Thailand
  • China shocked by major terrorist attack in Xinjiang province

Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites

Just two days after declaring martial law and promising not to take over the government, Thailand's army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha did just that -- seizing control of government on Thursday in a non-violent coup. Prayuth announced on Thai television: 

In order for the situation to return to normal quickly and for society to love and be at peace again ... and to reform the political, economic and social structure, the military needs to take control of power.

Prayuth represents a major victory for the "yellow shirt" elite protesters, mostly of Chinese descent, known as Thai-Chinese. They've crippled the capital city of Bangkok for months, demanding that the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, step down. Yingluck's main constituency is the much larger "red shirt" population of mostly indigenous ethnic Thais, known as Thai-Thais. Yingluck finally did resign two weeks ago, as a result of a court order, but the yellow shirts were demanding a lot more: instead of permitting a democratic election, the elites were demanding that the government be run by a "people's council" that they select. The reason is that an election would only bring to power another "red shirt" leader, as Yingluck's Pheu Thai political party has won the last five elections. 

It now appears that the elites will have their way. Prayuth is no neutral observer. He has openly favored the yellow shirt cause, and he ordered the Thai army to run tanks through red shirt barricades and assault them with live ammunition when they were the ones protesting in 2010. However, he's taken no similar actions against the yellow shirts that have been protesting since December, shutting down businesses and government buildings. Bangkok Post and BBC

A history of coups in Thailand

Thailand is quite familiar with army coups. There have been 18 previous successful or attempted coups since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. The most recent coup occurred in 2006, when Thaksin Shinawatra, the charismatic brother of Yingluck, was deposed in an army coup. 

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is building into a familiar and bloody situation. Thailand's last generational crisis war was the 1970s extremely bloody "killing fields" civil war that occurred next door in Cambodia, in which the Thai strongly supported the Khmer Rouge terrorists that slaughtered some 8 million Cambodians. So Thailand today is in a generational Awakening era. 

So what we have now in Thailand is two major groups separated by an ethnic fault line. The Thai-Chinese live mostly in central Thailand around Bangkok, and they're a "market-dominant minority," meaning that even though they're a minority, they control most of the money and businesses in the country. The Thai-Thai live in rural areas, mostly in the north. Many are farmers, but many are laborers that do the jobs that the elites don't want to do. 

So as I've written several times in the last few years, here's what we can expect: starting now in this generational Awakening era, there will be periods of violence alternating with periods of peace. What happens in these situations is that these alternating periods go on for decades, with each period of violence worse than the preceding one. Finally, when the country reaches a generational Crisis era 30-40 years later, the violence crosses a line, and the two ethnic groups have a full scale civil war. 

Now that Prayuth is running the country, what's he going to do next? He can't call for an election, because the Pheu Thai "red shirts" will win. He appears to be going in the direction of giving the elites everything they want -- an unelected "people's council," selected by the elites, to run the country. 

While the yellow shirts have been protesting since December, the red shirts have held back from confronting them, and their leaders have said that they'd continue to do so as long as there wasn't a coup. Well, now there's been a coup. You can be certain that the red shirt protesters are absolutely furious, and they'll become even more furious as this situation continues. They're demanding a new election (because they believe that their side will win), and if the army instead continues to install a "people's council" run almost entirely by yellow shirts, there's going to be violence. We can expect a very violent crackdown on any red shirt protests.

There's one more angle to this. Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, is highly revered, and it's considered a crime even to criticize him. But he's 86-years old and frail, and although he's not known to be ill, he may pass before too much longer. There is some speculation that Prayuth will try to assume some role with powers similar to the king's at that time. This is speculation at this point, but if military rule continues for months, then rumors about this possibility can be expected to grow. BBC

China shocked by major terrorist attack in Xinjiang province

In possibly the worst terrorist attack in China in years, 31 people were killed and 94 injured in a sophisticated attack in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang province, home of the Turkic Muslim ethnic group the Uighurs or Uyghurs. The attackers drove two cars into crowds of shoppers at a crowded marketplace, tossing bombs out the window as they drove. The objective was obviously to cause as much carnage as possible. It's believed that the assailants survived and are in police custody. According to one analyst, "This is the single most lethal terrorist attack that China has suffered." 

Xinjiang is a vast region and is home to more than 10 million Uighurs. China has tried to pacify the region in past decades by relocating huge numbers of Han Chinese to Xinjiang, to the extent that Han Chinese now outnumber Uighurs. Uighur activists claim that they suffer a great deal of discrimination, not only getting the most menial jobs but also being restricted from their own cultural practices, such as prohibiting women from wearing traditional headscarves or young men from growing beards. This has not pacified the region, however, but only infuriated them further. The reports don't say, but I'm going to guess that most of the shoppers in that marketplace were Han Chinese. McClatchy and AP and Xinhua

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Thailand, Prayuth Chan-ocha, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin Shinawatra, Cambodia, killing fields, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, China, Xinjiang, Uighurs 

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