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Showing posts from May 21, 2014

Thailand: Instability Remains After Yingluck's Removal From Power

Pro-Thaksin demonstrators at a rally in Phutthamonthon, a Bangkok suburb, on April 5. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The Thai political establishment has an opportunity over the next two months to remove Thaksin Shinawatra and his family from political influence, but the populist Thaksin movement will likely band together to resist this pressure. Instability will build in the lead-up to the July 20 elections, and Thailand's underlying constitutional and succession crisis will continue.

Analysis


The removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office along with nine members of her Cabinet and their potential five-year ban from participation in politics over corruption charges are logical steps by anti-Thaksin political forces toward their immediate goal of weakening the ruling Pheu Thai party. These moves play into their long-term goal of purging the political system of the influence of Yingluck's family and in particular that of her exiled brother, Thaksi…

Turkey Tries to Modernize Its Military

Turkish soldiers march in a parade in Istanbul on Aug. 30, 2013.(OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Ankara has set a number of national goals to commemorate the Turkish republic's centennial in 2023, among them an update of the country's military. Though these modernization plans are not necessarily new, they have a renewed sense of urgency behind them due to the instability in nearby Iraq and Syria and the tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine. Still, fraught civil-military relations in the country and economic stresses may prevent Turkey from acquiring the so-called "ultra-modern" military it is seeking anytime soon.

Analysis


At least on paper, Turkey already boasts a very modern and capable military by regional standards. Its navy is second to none in the Middle East, and its overall military is the second largest in NATO and well-equipped. The state is planning to boost investment in the domestic defense industry, and several significant weapons are being pr…

Washington Shows It Is Serious About Cyber-Espionage

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (L) announces indictments against Chinese military hackers on cyber-espionage as U.S. Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton (R) listens May 19, 2014 at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Summary


Washington's decision to indict officers of China's People's Liberation Army over alleged state-sponsored industrial espionage marks an important change in Washington's relations with Beijing. The move highlights growing concerns over intellectual property rights and industrial spying, but it also shows the intensified attention being paid to the challenges that state-to-state competition in the cyber domain creates.

Indictments have real consequences. Washington did not place largely unenforceable sanctions on individuals or bring a lawsuit to an international body that would take years to resolve, and those indicted risk extradition if they travel to a country with extradition tre…

Putting the Thai Crisis in Context

The silhouette of a Royal Thai Army machine gun in front of a picture of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the day after martial law was imposed in Bangkok. Rufus Cox/Getty Images

Summary


In many respects, the current crisis in Thailand is a reflection of centuries-old rivalries. It is rooted in the division between the rural majority in the north and northeast of the country and the urban elite centered in Bangkok. And then there are the deeper geopolitics of Thailand, dating back to the competition between the northern kingdom of Lanna and the southern kingdom of Siam. These underlying factors provide a frame and context for the political and social unrest that has dominated Thailand almost since the inauguration of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001 (in part a rejection of the former government's handling of the Asian economic crisis), and certainly since his ouster in 2006, which saw in the country's first military coup in nearly 15 years.

Analysis
In times of economic st…