Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Get Ready for a Bloody End Game in Thailand

Thai soldiers inspecting the site of a bomb blast near an anti-government rally in Bangkok
Thai soldiers inspecting the site of a bomb blast near an anti-government rally in BangkokPhotograph by Pornchai Kittwongsakul/AFP via Getty Images

Clashes in Thailand between anti-government protestors and security forces have intensified. Over the past weekend, unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at anti-government protestors in eastern Thailand, killing a five-year-old girl, and someone apparently launched two grenade attacks in Bangkok. Since the current round of demonstrations started last November, 21 people have been killed and hundreds injured in Thailand. The country has basically functioned without an effective government for months, the once-teflon economy is sputtering, and Thais are preparing for the violence to get worse. The leader of the demonstrations has vowed to hunt down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the protestors have been electrified by the turn of events in Ukraine, and all sides appear to be taking more confrontational positions.

Although Thailand’s cycle of political instability seems to have gone on forever—the genesis of the unrest dates back roughly a decade—the chaos in Bangkok is likely to end soon. The government has appointed hard-line ministers to the top security positions, the powerful army chief has for the first time issued a warning to the demonstrators, and the protestors have upped their violent rhetoric and seemingly armed themselves with heavier weapons. The denouement in Bangkok, coming shortly, is not likely to be pretty.