ASEAN Defense: 1) Thai-Cambodia Conflict Fact-Sheet

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I am not into waring with my Siamese cats

Economic:

Cambodia economy is growing some 6% this year, with a major island, Kho Kong, attracting US$ billions of foreign investments-with a target of turning it into a miniature Singapore. Thai economy, with the lowest growth in ASEAN, hinges on a weak recovery and a war may mean the end to any hope for an economic recovery.

Military:

Cambodia said it will increase next year’s military budget by about US$300 million, mostly to Calvary related areas. While Thailand has a major Calvary army in E-Sarn on Cambodia’s border. However, as early as six months ago, senior Cambodian military commanders told their Thai counterparts that Cambodia was prepared to throw 10,000 battle hardened troops against the Thai army.

The Dispute:

On dispute between the two countries is a rich oil and gas reserves that have seen negotiations broken down as Thailand demanded 80% while Cambodia demanded 50%-50% split. Also of cultural and emotional are the Khmer Empire Relics that lies on many parts of the entire Thai and Cambodia border.

Helping Taksin:

Cambodia’s main rationale for helping Taksin is that the Thai justice system is unjust and not fair. A recent Thai poll says most Thais sees the Thai justice system as hell bent on going after Taksin and is not fair. However, the government is reported by the Thai press for weeks now that it will build Nationalism feelings in Thailand to shore up failing popularity, and the Thai support for a war with Cambodia is expected to be solid. Most Thai press and the government is of the opinion that Cambodia’s helping Taksin is about weakening the Thais.

Trade:

Thais enjoy going to Cambodia for gambling and purchase of second hand goods and total two way trade is about US$4 billion a year, with Cambodia on the verge of becoming a major rice exporting countries as it has opened the sector for foreign investments. That will bring it into competition with Thailand’s rice exporting.

Diplomatic and Media:

Diplomatically, Thailand is very much isolated globally as most global major press is against the Thai government anti-free expression position. In the last head of ASEAN meet in Thailand, many did not show up for the opening ceremony. And earlier, when the current government was in the opposition, it insulted the Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, as a “cheap thug.”

Peace Process:

Cambodia proposed to Thailand to de-militarized the hotly disputed area of Phra Viharn, with each side pulling back its military by 10 km, but the Thai rejected the move saying Cambodia has no right to suggest to the Thais any military movements. The Thai army have also consistently told the Thai press that Cambodia have beefed up its position in the area. Meanwhile, Cambodia military personnals have shown intentions on crossing into clearly defined Thai territories on several occasions, according to Thai military.

Expected War Result:

Most military analyst said it the conflict escalates to war, Thailand would win a very “Bloody” military victory, however Thailand will loose on the global front, as Cambodia has a great many sympathizers globally, including France, which has joined NATO and now in command of a key NATO post in the US.

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