The Context of This Year’s Hat Yai Bombings

Thai Bomb Attacks Mark Increased Threat – WSJ, April 2, 2012
…The blasts on Saturday singled out weekend shoppers and vacationers in bustling commercial centers, a move that security analysts said shows Thailand’s southern militants are modifying their attacks by seeking higher-profile targets and turning a low-intensity campaign into a much more dangerous conflict…

[Most of these international articles don’t give much of a context to what is really happening. Any time there is a higher death count, the simplistic analysis is that separatists are getting stronger or bolder. Any time there is an incident, authorities try to save face by confidently claiming they know more incidents might happen and will step up security.
The significance in this incident is that the southern violence is happening in Hat Yai city–an area out of bounds for the normal pace of deep south mayhem. Violent incidents normally only happen in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat and in the three southernmost districts of Songkhla Province.
There are several times of the year when the southern violence protrudes out of these areas and into Hat Yai proper. These incidents happen with regularity–usually once a year. Major events in Songkhla Province happened once a year from 2005 through 2008.
While the higher death count and a car bomb in a parking structure is worrying, thus far, the coordinated incidents do not indicate anything different happening in terms of the pace or timing of the violence–except perhaps an ever evolving competence in bomb-making techniques in response to military success in combating earlier methods.

Things to watch for:
* If there are any further incident outside the deep south zone. This would actually indicate a change in separatist tactics.
* If there is an uptick in violent incidents with mass causalities within the deep south zone. Despite the immediate uproar of high-profile Hat Yai blasts, violent events have usually fallen back within a normal range in terms of pace and timing.

The most important issue mentioned in the WSJ article is that the government and military are at loggerheads. It is once again a confluence of domestic Bangkok politics that results in a chaotic situation in the south. First is a military resisting a civilian plan for autonomy and accountability in the deep south. Secondly is that no Thaksin-directed government has displayed much success in dealing with the violence in the deep south. Its motivations are based on stymieing opposition political power in the area. They are also keen to take on the army over their handling of the situation as another wedge in the effort to allow Thaksin to return to Thailand and politics.

In any event, thus far, this is nothing new.]

7 Years Ago in April, 2005 Blasts hit airport & hotel
6 Years Ago on September 17, 2006 Hat Yai blasts
5 Years Ago in May, 2007 Bombs in Hat Yai
4 Years Ago: Songkhla rocked by coordinated bomb attacks

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