Asia Times Three

Thai Unrest, Afghan
War & Korean Split

* Update: An eerie calm in Thailand may be showing that government forces were finally able to silence protesters in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country at least for now. In Afghanistan, war rages on, though, and the lack of pressing news is not, necessarily, good news. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned North Korea’s alledged attack on a South Korea warship that killed scores of sailors.

Thailand – Discontent against the government has taken a lethal turn. Government efforts to crush the so-called Red Shirts, supporters of self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has caused a death toll of 12 and rising, countless injured and the burning of several buildings in the capital Bangkok. Thaksin, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon, took office in 2001 only to be ousted in a military coup in 2006, setting up a widespread movement to bring him back to power. The unrest also confirms that, as it happened throughout the 1900s, red shirts still hold a threatening grip over power.

* Afghanistan – In the week that marked the 1000th U.S. casualty and the visit of president Hamid Karzai to Washington, Taliban forces have intensified attacks in the Marja region that could undermine allies’ efforts to stabilize the country. In Kabul, a failed suicide bombing at an American base ignited a fierce gunfight that left an American contractor and 10 guerillas dead, and wounded a dozen U.S. soldiers. And elsewhere, still near Kabul, a roadside bomb killed several NATO officers. All in a day’s work.

* Koreas – The South is officially blaming its neighboring North of having torpedoed and sank one of its warships in March, killing 46 sailors on board. The accusation may set off a diplomatic battle for a new round of international sanctions against North Korea and the unraveling of the fragile peace balance in the region. As the split sill rips Koreans apart, their governments play war games.

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