2Bangkok Situation Update: Grenades on Silom and an offer of compromise - April 24, 2010
Veera's surprise offer of a one month dissolution compromise from the Red Shirts shows the seriousness of the Silom grenade events.
Veera has been out of the limelight since the April 10 events. He is the more temperate of the three Red Shirt leaders and it is thought he was alienated by the choice to forcefully fight against troops on that day. That he has suddenly reemerged with an offer means something serious is going on.
Up to this point it there has been a single, non-negotiable position for the Reds--dissolution. Their sudden change of position can only mean that they are convinced that a crackdown is a real danger. They certainly feel the military pressure over past weeks as new anti-Red rallies have sprung up and counter mobs have been allowed to openly clash with the Reds at the Saladaneg intersection.
A strategic back down at this moment could preserve the movement under their leadership in the face of any establishment overreaction. Accompanying this compromise offer are rumors that Veera and the other top Red Shirt leaders are seeking asylum overseas to escape from the many charges and warrants against them.
It is likely that this is part of a Thai-style compromise is being engineered behind-the-scenes to engineer a soft landing for the situation. However, there are many in the power structure who will not be willing to let the Reds slip away to fight another day with this kind of compromise.
It will not be easy for the government to give in to this demand which would still allow a new Thaksin-dominated government to take power in the near term. Early elections would again bring up the specter of 2008 when a People Power Party-led coalition halted all government activity to change the constitution while rattling sabers against the monarchy.
Quick dissolution would also set the precedent the establishment has been trying avoid--that a few thousand people, backed by opposition politicians and armed with rhetoric and slingshots, could topple governments in the future. Also, major coalition partners have been counting on these chaotic events to wipe out the Red Shirts and Thaksin influence while equally sullying Democrat chances in the next elections.
While the chips are stacked against compromise, the alternative is worrying--more drawn-out chaos between the Red Shirts and anti-Red Shirt mobs as the military sets the stage for action.
(BTW: Military statements ruling out violence are for public relations only. The more insistent these denials are, the closer we are to action. The same thing holds true for coups--the more frequent the denials, the more real the possibility is that a coup is on the horizon.)