Maj. Gen. Khattiya’s outbursts not the key news of the week

Maj. Gen. Khattiya's outbursts not the key news of the week - February 6, 2010

Right: From Nation Weekend, February, 2010
The headline reads: Black tigers roar! - bloodshed over the land

[Field army soldiers are known as "sons of the Payak (tiger)" or the "black army." The cover refers to the cooperation between Maj. Gen. Khattiya (left) and Gen. Pallop (right). The two recently met Thaksin in Dubai and their involvement, along with Khattiya's statements about assassination of judges involved in prominent cases, has fueled rumors that the lead up to Thaksin asset ruling will be marked by violent events.

The government must certainly be cheered that someone like Khattiya is being seen to lead the Thaksin push... and that, more incredibly, Khattiya appears to be making threats on behalf of Thaksin. His over-the-top remarks have led to a continuous stream of denials and clarifications from other pro-Thaksin figures.

It also drives a wedge between Thaksin and his Pheu Thai MPs who remain popular in their districts and are hopeful to be included in a future government. Of course, the spectacle of allowing a personality like Khattiya to engage the government and public could be classic misdirection while the real plans for destabilizing the country are occurring behind-the-scenes.

This leads to the key news of the week. Several readers asked the significance of these articles we posted yesterday:
Chalerm: Row with Sudarat ended - Bangkok Post, February 3, 2010
Chalerm urges unity, blocks out Sudarat - The Nation, February 4, 2010

The articles report on the most telling development of the week. Below is an overly broad and simplified explanation, but is intended to give the essence of the situation:

Almost two years ago it was decided that a broad end game for the political struggle would be to cut Thaksin off from politics, but allow all other politicians back on the playing field. This was with the understanding that even if a Thaksin-sponsored party wins, the military would never allow Thaksin himself to return or to lead.

This strategy has been steadily encouraged, first during the Samak government when a Newin-Samak alliance attempted to purge Thaksin lackeys from the cabinet. However, Samak's disqualification ruined the plan. Next, Newin and his political grouping were lured into a Democrat-led coalition.

Now, Pheu Thai members are being wooed behind-the-scenes by other political parties. Even within the Pheu Thai Party itself, the tides are shifting with most political factions preferring to maneuver to be part of a future coalition rather than assist in a destabilization of the current governing system.

This explanation is a very broad description of the overriding idea of allowing everyone but Thaksin back into the fold. There have been other behind-the-scenes negotiations and diversions from this plan as well as various groups, parties, and personalities who have worked against the plan for a variety of reasons, but the main thrust has been to wait Thaksin out and slowly co-opt the political groups he formerly led.

The jostling this week between pragmatic Chalerm and Thaksin-diehard Sudarat reflects the reality that Pheu Thai may be slipping from Thaksin's control and instead wishes to engage in conventional coalition politics.

The biggest problem will be opposition from the PAD. The PAD has a more uncompromising position that considers Newin's Bhumjaithai and the Pheu Thai (even without Thaksin) to be as bad as Thaksin himself and worthy of the same type of protest that was used against Thaksin.]

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