The Rohingya Crisis

October 15, 2017

Since late August 2017, over 530,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar into Bangladesh. I’ve been quite busy trying to improve public and policymakers’ understanding of the causes of the violence and possibly policies to address it. I wrote a long piece for New Mandala explaining why the exodus is not simply produced by land-grabs but reflects a very complex political economy context; this has subsequently been republished by Bangladesh’s Daily Star. I also provided private advice to the Foreign Office and gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee – you can watch that here or read the testimony here.


Dan Snow’s History Hit – Episode on Rohingya Crisis, 22 September 2017

September 22, 2017

I recorded a podcast with Dan Snow on the Rohingya crisis and the long-term historical backdrop. You can listen to it here.


The Briefing Room, 21 September 2017

September 21, 2017

I help introduce the Rohingya refugee crisis in the latest episode of The Briefing Room on BBC Radio 4, hosted by David Aaronovitch. You can listen to the episode here.


Myanmar: appearance on Aufhebungbunga podcast

September 3, 2017

I was pleased to appear on a newish (but quite brilliant) politics podcast called AufheBungaBunga to discuss the situation in Myanmar. The focus of the discussion was the situation in Rakhine state (recorded days before the latest flare-up in violence) and whatever happened to Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberal credentials. We also had a brief discussion of Charlottesville, based on my piece on The Current Moment.


Quoted in Irrawaddy report, 28 Aug 2017

August 31, 2017

My work on Myanmar’s political economy is quoted in a report in The Irawaddy on resource politics in Kachin state. You can read it here.


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.

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).


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