Divergent Interpretations of the Southern Conflict in Thailand: 'National Liberation' or 'Pan-Islamic Jihad'?
Journal of Contemporary Literature, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 112-118, 2009
7 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 23, 2009
The conflict in the South of Thailand has received increasing international attention due to the violent nature of the struggle and the Muslim identity of the insurgency. This paper deals with the discursive struggle over the nature of the conflict. Two main interpretations of the conflict can be identified namely the religious interpretation and the “national‐liberation” explanation. Neither interpretation explains the conflict in its entirety however each emphasizes a given factor in the conflict over others. Rather than taking the usual stand of the West vs. the Rest this paper will show how the security establishment (both regional and global) has favored the religious interpretation while a large portion of the non‐western academic community in addition to most non‐governmental organizations have favored the second explanation. The paper concludes that the divergent explanations rather than representing a division between the West and the Rest, show that the division cuts across geographical lines and in some instances can be traced to the instrumental use of the discourse of the “War on Terror” in the service of national interest and hegemonic security concerns.
Keywords: Intrastate Conflict, Ethnic Conflict, Separatism, Self Determination, Thailand, Patani
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