Sputnik radio show on sanctions, 17 Aug 2017

August 30, 2017

I took part in an extended discussion on sanctions on Sputnik Radio, which you can listen to here.

 

BBC World TV appearance, 25 Aug 2017

August 25, 2017

I appeared on BBC World TV’s Insight programme to discuss the flight into exile of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Below is a quasi-summary of some of my points.https://youtu.be/X73Og1nigSQ

What’s the trial about?

Ostensibly, a massive rice subsidy scheme that allegedly cost the state $16bn. Yingluck charged with negligence for ignoring warnings of loopholes and opportunities for corruption. Already forced to pay $1bn to contribute to losses.

But this is also a political trial. Thailand racked by factional conflict for 15 years between an alliance of big business elites and poor workers and farmers, led by the tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra (Yingluck’s brother) and his associates, and an alliance of generals, business elites, middle-class professionals, judges and bureaucrats trying to dismantle the Thaksin machine. The current military regime is trying, yet again, to destroy that machine by destroying Yingluck. They have to do this through military coups and judicial machinations because the Thaksin alliance has won every election since 2001.

Why has she fled?

Presumably she was tipped off that the court was not only going to find her guilty – a foregone conclusion because the judicial system is thoroughly politicised and anti-Shinawatra – but also imprison her. Even if she was found not-guilty, there are 11 more cases pending against her. The generals were determined to get her, one way or the other.

Former commerce minister was just given a 42-year sentence for corruption relating to the rice subsidy scheme.

Where is she?

Sources report she fled to Cambodia, and from there to Dubai (via Singapore) to join Thaksin in exile.

What impact will this have? What will happen next?

Some of Yingluck’s supporters will be disappointed. Others will sympathise because they recognise she could not receive a fair trial.

The junta may feel she has done them a favour by removing a popular figurehead, without them having to imprison Yingluck and make a martyr of her. The prosecution is also part of their attempt to permanently outlaw “populist” policies, and they may feel that it’s a success and will deter politicians in future. The junta may feel more confident and press ahead with further attacks on the Thaksin machine, and finally move towards elections they have been promising for over two years.

However, it’s likely that some other member of the Shinawatra clan will step up to replace Yingluck. She was only the third replacement for Thaksin, following previous machinations to remove two other proxies. Her successor might lack her personal popularity among the poor, but will retain mass support because of what they will represent: a more equal distribution of power and resources in Thai society, against the continued dominance of a narrow Bangkok elite.

RT appearances, 4 and 19 May 2017

May 22, 2017

I appeared on RT to debate the government’s “Prevent” programme, and to discuss Swedish prosecutors’ dropping of rape charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

 

RT appearance 13 April 2017

April 20, 2017

I appeared on RT last Thursday to discuss US strikes on Syria and the deadlock at the UN Security Council.

 

Media Appearances April 2017

April 5, 2017

I appeared on Talk Radio on 3 April to discuss Donald Trump’s remarks on North Korea (clip here), and on RT to discuss Saudi war crimes in Yemen and US/ UK complicity (clip here).

 

RT appearance, 9 December 2016

December 14, 2016

I appeared on RT on Friday to discuss Boris Johnson’s comments on Saudi Arabia, the UK’s role in the region’s proxy wars, and the impact of the PM’s repeated slap-downs of the foreign secretary on the coherence of UK foreign policy.

 

Sputnik news coverage

October 26, 2016

I’m quoted in two Sputnik news reports, one on an event I organised on the future of the Labour party, the other on anti-Semitism in Labour.

 

New chapter on Myanmar’s Kachin ceasefire

October 15, 2016

I’m delighted to be among the contributors to a new edited book called War and Peace in the Borderlands of Myanmar, edited by Mandy Sadan at SOAS. The book is about the rise and fall of the ceasefire between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organisation, from many different perspectives – geopolitical, economic, cultural, social and even artistic. My chapter is about the geopolitics and political economy of the ceasefire, explaining why the deal was struck in 1994, and the forces that eventually brought it down. You can read it here. There is also a terrific website that accompanies the book, with additional material.

 

Death of King Bhumibol

October 14, 2016

I have op-eds on The Conversation and New Mandala on the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol. (They are substantially the same but the first gives more background and forecasts a bit more.)

The situation is already evolving from when I wrote these pieces yesterday afternoon. Although General Prayuth, the current military dictator, immediately announced that Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn would succeed his father, the National Assembly convened but did not confirm the succession. The official story is that Vajiralongkorn wants to delay the succession until after he has finished mourning. However, today it’s been announced that General Prem Tinsulanonda, the 96-year-old head of the Privy Council, will act as regent. This is constitutionally correct, but Prem is also alleged (most prominently by Andrew MacGregor Marshall) to be an enemy of Vajiralongkorn, having supposedly plotted for years to block his accession to the throne. As I said in my review of AMM’s A Kingdom in Crisis, I’ve seen no clear evidence to support this allegation. But if it is true, the delay in the succession could indicate what AMM has always argued – a last-ditch attempt to swap Vajiralongkorn for his sister, Sirindhorn, who is far more widely liked in Thailand. If this is so, it looks like Prayuth is not part of this plot, having tried to rush Vajiralongkorn onto the throne, which would also suggest that he is not entirely in control of events. Of course, a far more mundane explanation is possible: Vajiralongkorn wants to (or his advisors have suggested he) spend time publicly mourning to burnish his standing, and Prem’s caretaker role is a default one arising from that decision. I have no way of knowing which interpretation is correct.

EDIT (18.10.16): my article piece has now been published in Newsweek. I also appeared on the BBC World Service (here, at 30:00) and Radio 4’s The World At One (here, at 25:30) to discuss this on 14 October. AMM has also posted a note directly claiming that Prem is manoeuvring to displace Vachiralongkorn or impose constraints on him before he takes the throne. As one would expect there is no evidence presented for these claims so I have no way of knowing if they are true, but it would explain why Prayuth announced an immediate succession, only to backtrack later.

 

Appearance on Russia Today on Prevent

October 4, 2016

Another interview on why Prevent should be scrapped, on Russia Today, from 27 September 2016.

 

 
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