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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 takeover the government, Thailand’s army chief General Prayuth Chan-ochadid just that — seizing control of government on Thursday in anon-violent coup. Prayuth announced on Thai television: 

In order for the situation to return to normalquickly and for society to love and be at peace again … and toreform the political, economic and social structure, the militaryneeds to take control of power.

Prayuth represents a major victory for the “yellow shirt” eliteprotesters, mostly of Chinese descent, known as Thai-Chinese. They’vecrippled the capital city of Bangkok for months, demanding that the primeminister, Yingluck Shinawatra, step down. Yingluck’s mainconstituency is the much larger “red shirt” population of mostlyindigenous ethnic Thais, known as Thai-Thais. Yingluck finally didresign two weeks ago, as a result of a court order, but the yellowshirts were demanding a lot more: instead of permitting a democraticelection, the elites were demanding that the government be run by awould only bring to power another “red shirt” leader, as Yingluck’sPheu Thai political party has won the last five elections. 

It now appears that the elites will have their way. Prayuth is noneutral observer. He has openly favored the yellow shirt cause, andhe ordered the Thai army to run tanks through red shirt barricades andassault them with live ammunition when they were the ones protesting in2010. However, he’s taken no similar actions against the yellowshirts that have been protesting since December, shutting downbusinesses and government buildings. Bangkok Post and BBC

A history of coups in Thailand

Thailand is quite familiar with army coups. There have been 18previous successful or attempted coups since the country became aconstitutional monarchy in 1932. The most recent coup occurred in2006, 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 intoa familiar and bloody situation. Thailand’s last generational crisiswar was the 1970s extremely bloody “killing fields” civil war thatoccurred next door in Cambodia, in which the Thai strongly supportedthe 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 anethnic fault line. The Thai-Chinese live mostly in central Thailandaround Bangkok, and they’re a “market-dominant minority,” meaning thateven though they’re a minority, they control most of the money andbusinesses in the country. The Thai-Thai live in rural areas, mostlyin the north. Many are farmers, but many are laborers that do thejobs that the elites don’t want to do. 

So as I’ve written several times in the last few years, here’s what wecan expect: starting now in this generational Awakening era, therewill be periods of violence alternating with periods of peace. Whathappens in these situations is that these alternating periods go onfor decades, with each period of violence worse than the precedingone. Finally, when the country reaches a generational Crisis era30-40 years later, the violence crosses a line, and the two ethnicgroups have a full scale civil war. 

Now that Prayuth is running the country, what’s he going to donext? He can’t call for an election, because the Pheu Thaiof giving the elites everything they want — an unelected

While the yellow shirts have been protesting since December, the redshirts have held back from confronting them, and their leaders havesaid 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 shirtprotesters are absolutely furious, and they’ll become even morefurious as this situation continues. They’re demanding a new election(because they believe that their side will win), and if the armyinstead continues to install a “people’s council” run almost entirelyby yellow shirts, there’s going to be violence. We can expect a veryviolent crackdown on any red shirt protests.

There’s one more angle to this. Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King ofThailand, is highly revered, and it’s considered a crime even tocriticize him. But he’s 86-years old and frail, and although he’s not known tobe ill, he may pass before too much longer. There is some speculationthat Prayuth will try to assume some role with powers similar to the king’s at that time. This is speculation at this point, but ifmilitary rule continues for months, then rumors about this possibilitycan 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 peoplewere killed and 94 injured in a sophisticated attack in Urumqi, thecapital of China’s Xinjiang province, home of the Turkic Muslim ethnicgroup the Uighurs or Uyghurs. The attackers drove two cars intocrowds of shoppers at a crowded marketplace, tossing bombs out thewindow as they drove. The objective was obviously to cause as muchcarnage as possible. It’s believed that the assailants survived andare in police custody. According to one analyst, “This is the singlemost 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 relocatinghuge numbers of Han Chinese to Xinjiang, to the extent that HanChinese now outnumber Uighurs. Uighur activists claim that theysuffer a great deal of discrimination, not only getting the mostmenial jobs but also being restricted from their own culturalpractices, such as prohibiting women from wearing traditionalheadscarves or young men from growing beards. This has not pacifiedthe region, however, but only infuriated them further. The reportsdon’t say, but I’m going to guess that most of the shoppers in thatmarketplace 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 

Permanent web link to this article

Receive daily World View columns by e-mail