Thai troops and anti-government protesters clashed (NYT) in central Bangkok as the military moved to seal of the area where the so-called “red shirts” have been stationed for weeks. Embassies, schools, and businesses near the protest area closed after the military announced the blockade and cut off electricity and water to the area. Violence erupted near the spot where anti-government major general Khattiya Sawatdiphol was shot by a sniper Thursday. Protesters seized and vandalized military vehicles, set at least one truck on fire, and brandished homemade weapons. Protest leaders addressed the thousands camped in the area, demanding the government resign and hold new elections. The military had been holding back, fearing the kind of casualties that occurred in an earlier clash, but began to crack down after negotiations deteriorated.
The apparent assassination attempt on Khattiya failed to dissuade (WSJ) more militant demonstrators, though the army denies it shot him.
In the Japan Times, Christopher Johnson says the rise of Thailand’s “red shirts” signals a new type of conflict in the region, involving entrenched elites and millions of workers who have migrated from farms to cities across Asia.
In the Daily Star, Ian Buruma says the Thai protests are an example of the growing number of people in democratic countries who feel unrepresented, anxious, and angry, and who blame elites.
On CFR’s Asia Unbound blog, Joshua Kurlantzick says major unresolved issues in Thailand like royal succession, schisms in the army, and fundamental changes in Thai politics -872″ style=”color: rgb(65, 28, 13); outline-style: none; outline-width: initial; outline-color: initial; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-bottom-style: initial; border-bottom-color: initial; text-decoration: underline; “>will continue to fuel the country’s political crisis.