Thailand, Muslim Separatists Agree to End Conflict

    Thailand, Muslim Separatists Agree to End Conflict
    Photo: Martyn Aim/Corbis via Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • Following two days of talks mediated in Malaysia, the Thai government and Muslim separatist rebels have agreed to coordinate a path toward peace. Conflict in Thailand's three southernmost provinces — the only ones with a Muslim majority — has been ongoing since 2004, killing 7K due to shootings and bombings by the rebels and alleged torture by the government.

    • The agreement on principle, which will be followed by two months of negotiating details, comes after similar talks were held in 2013 in Malaysia and failed. The two sides are now hoping to pursue a ceasefire between March 10, when the Muslim Holiday Ramadan begins to mid-April, when Thailand's festival of Songkran takes place.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    While new signs of a potential ceasefire are always welcome, those who want this conflict to end should always be skeptical. While both sides have agreed to some concessions and even "holiday cease-fires" in the past, the Malaysian government is still closely tied to the military, while Thailand still hasn't touched upon the rebels' main grievances. Only time will tell if these new negotiations will pan out.

    Narrative B

    Both sides need to enter these talks from a deeper historical, economic, and cultural perspective. This includes the fact that the separatist movement is decades old, the ethnic Malays and Muslims don't typically interact with the Thai people, and southern Thailand is the poorest region of the country. Thailand needs to concede this reality, and the insurgents need to accept that Thailand is not going to split up its sovereign territory.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 75% chance that Thailand will experience a successful coup d'etat before 2040, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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