But comparing these conflicts, which are so far removed from each other, is like comparing apples and oranges, right? Not at all. The fundamental goal of jihad in any form is to impose Islamic law, and that has driven the jihadists in each of these conflicts. Similarly, in each one, authorities have more or less decided to surrender to the imposition of Islamic law and declare victory because they found a way to make the shooting stop (maybe). Time will tell if a semi-autonomous Islamic state will enhance the security of Thailand or its neighbors, but considering the example of Pakistan and Somalia, as well as Mindanao, the odds don’t look good.
A Thai government policy review of the largely Muslim southern provinces is considering granting greater local autonomy with reforms including introduction of Sharia Law through Islamic courts. The strategy is part of efforts to bring to an end a five-year insurgency that has cost more than 3,000 lives.
The only thing missing is the standard assurance that the sharia imposed on southern Thailand won’t be the hand-chopping, infidel-oppressing, apostate-killing variety. But if this plan goes through, the Thai government will find itself wading into the quagmire of how much sharia is “enough” sharia, while the jihadists and their sympathizers and enablers will continuously push for more in the name of “peace.”
The policy review began soon after the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came to office in December. Speaking to foreign correspondents earlier this year, Mr. Abhsit set out the government’s policy goals.
“The only long-term solution must be done through a comprehensive package that covers well beyond the security dimensions, but also addresses the issues such as economic development as well as addressing education and cultural diversity in the provinces,” he said.
‘Total development concept’
The government plan includes setting up a special office headed by a minister in charge of affairs in the Southern provinces. An interim committee of ministers has examined what the government calls a ‘total development concept’ directed to the three provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.
The region is among the poorest in Thailand, heavily reliant on agriculture, especially rubber, as well as mining.
While Thailand’s 63 million population is overwhelmingly Buddhist, there are more than six million Muslims, largely living in these provinces bordering Malaysia.
A Thai government review paper, an English translated copy of which was obtained by VOA, says people in the region consider themselves Pattani Malays rather than Thai….