Thursday, October 23, 2008

When Proxies go to War

*All photos copyright*

Pro-Government supporters cheering Police General Salang Bunnag at Royal Plaza, October 22, 2008.

Retired police General Salang has been repeating his threats to oust the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters from Government House and with a strange twist.

From The Nation:

"Salang said he would seal off Government House to starve off the protesters, who would be denied supplies of food and water for three days.

He said friendly foreign countries have agreed to supply him with the weapons, which would be used in the operation that would not create any loss of lives.

He declined to name the foreign countries or the details of his operation to reclaim Government House from the protesters."

And what 'friendly foreign country' would actually supply weapons to a former police general?

None of course, that is nonsense.

But, in the same way that PAD's million-baht-a-day protest enjoys certain royal patronage, there are other interested stakeholders who would happily arm Salang's vigilante group.

Its not simply that Thailand is awash with weapons anyway or that it is unlikely a difficult thing for former police officer to have access to the state's armories or that small arms dealers feeding insurgent armies in Burma would happy to sell arms or that Cambodia's small arms markets could supply countless weapons or even, god forbid, those Chinese-made 'non-lethal' tear gas grenades that proved to be seriously lethal might find their way back into use but it is more likely that Salang will be armed from the pro-government camp.

And by pro-government, that could simply be the government itself.

Given that the floundering government has lost much legitimacy over the violence that erupted on October 7th it is unlikely that they would risk another confrontation.

But a proxy militia – either funded by the government itself or by a certain unmentionable faction of an unmentionable institution – could certainly be employed to go to war with PAD.

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