Latest attacks show BRN’s new strategy

Caught on video were a separatists who assigned a Cho Airong district hospital, who gave each denote they had perceived large-unit training. (Photo pleasantness Isoc)

Coming usually reduction than dual weeks apart, a new automobile explosve on a hinterland of Pattani city and a vital mutinous conflict that invaded a sanatorium in Narathiwat prove that underneath a aspect of a conflict sputtering opposite a southern limit provinces a belligerent is shifting.

The latest attacks that occurred opposite a backdrop of a spike in daily shootings and bombings underscored a new mutinous importance on domestic messaging and mobilisation while effectively undermining 3 comforting assumptions substantial in a stream executive narrative. 

Common banking as recently as January, those assumptions have been that, first, after a solid decrease in conflict given mid-2014, a separatist dispute is ebbing; second, that a widespread mutinous faction, a Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) has been militarily enervated and is politically divided between moderates and hard-liners; and third, that a assent routine of sorts involving BRN moderates or during slightest people compared with them is behind on track.

Anthony Davis

It is now formidable to give most faith to any of these propositions. It appears in fact that a certainty army are opposed a plea that is distant from underneath control and competence good be about to escalate.

A worst-case yet not extraordinary interpretation of new events suggests that BRN has used a 18-month assent given mid-2014 to partisan and sight uninformed intake while reassessing and recalibrating a plan that after a decade of rebel has unsuccessful to grasp any concrete breakthroughs. 

With that routine behind it, a celebration competence now be prepared to pull a dispute into a new proviso of troops and domestic operations.

Any such escalation would hark behind to a 2011-2013 duration that arguably noted a high indicate of a BRN’s debate to date. Those years saw pointy boost in car-bomb attacks including dual — in Phuket and Sadao — outward a insurgents’ normal area of operations, yet these were not concurred by a authorities as insurgency-related. From 3 in 2010, car-bomb incidents doubled to 7 in 2011 and afterwards surged to 13 in 2012 — before descending to 4 in 2013, 5 in 2014 and usually dual final year.

More importantly, a 2011-2013 duration was punctuated by a array of formidable assaults on certainty force bases mostly in a vital executive segment of Narathiwat that concerned insurgents concentrating in crew strength of between 30 to 60 fighters for singular attacks.

Aimed essentially during seizing weapons, these operations began during an army bottom in Rangae district, Narathiwat, on Jan 19, 2011, when some 40 insurgents partially overran a camp, murdering 4 soldiers and creation off with some 50 conflict rifles and machine-guns. The sub-district where a conflict unfolded, Mareubo Tok, lent a name to a BRN’s new tactic — a “Maruebo Model”.

Those attacks came to an sudden hindrance in a early hours of Feb 13, 2013, when a crack of operational certainty resulted in during slightest 16 insurgents failing in an unfinished conflict on a Marine Corps bottom in Bacho district for that a Marines were prepared and waiting.

The Mareubo Model or something like it is now appears to be back. Tactics employed in a Mar 13 conflict on a ranger bottom staged from a devalue of Cho Airong District Hospital were true out of a same BRN play-book. A vast force of good over 50 insurgents carried out a three-pronged operation involving a diversionary force, a primary conflict organisation and a third organisation regulating an makeshift explosve device to forbid reinforcements and cover a mutinous withdrawal.

CCTV footage of a contemptuous illumination conflict by a sanatorium was also revelation — as a BRN dictated it to be. It showed combatants dressed in black fatigues and balaclavas relocating tactically and with good fortify between and in and out of buildings in a demeanour that strongly suggested unit-level training.

But there were also differences with progressing attacks in that a objectives of a latest operation were domestic rather than military. Given open belligerent and a wall between a sanatorium and a ranger bottom a enemy clearly had no goal of attempting to overshoot a bottom and seize weapons.

Underscored by a large output of ammunition by a enemy — over 1,800 spent shell-casings were after found — a whole practice seemed to be a thespian uncover of force dictated to accelerate a BRN’s form and confuse a certainty forces. Seven rangers and one mutinous — yet significantly no civilians — were wounded.

Security army conducted a extensive review of a conflict on a Cho Airong district hospital. (Photo by Waedao Harai)

Both a Pattani automobile explosve and a Cho Airong raid took place in really specific domestic contexts. In a Feb 27 car-bomb conflict a domestic design of a day roughly positively associated to a assent routine involving a organisation of separatist factions famous as Mara Patani that with Malaysian facilitation has come together to negotiate with a Thai government. 

The beginning is one that a BRN’s comparison care has angrily and publicly disavowed arising a singular communique reinforced by a media talk final October. Not by coincidence, a car-bomb conflict occurred one day before a assent discussion during Pattani University addressed by video presentations by a Malaysian facilitator, Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, and Awang Jabat, a supposed deputy of a BRN. Similarly, a Cho Airong Hospital raid was dictated to send a domestic summary about a lot some-more than usually a anniversary of BRN’s first in Mar 1960 — an anniversary a BRN has never before “celebrated” with vital attacks. The genuine summary can be safely insincere to have associated to one or both of dual other issues.

Again, a Mara Patani routine — a red broom to a BRN longhorn — was one. In this context a raid supposing a forked response to a Thai traffic team’s offer that Cho Airong competence be partial of a violence-free “safety zone” directed during certainty building. An armed conflict by a district sanatorium spoke volumes for a prospects for any “safety” not concluded on by a insurgents themselves.

The other emanate of a day was a open fund-raiser hold 6 days after during a Jihad Witaya pondok (Islamic seminary) in Yaring district of Pattani following a justice sequence final Dec authorising state seizure of a school’s land for a purported impasse in insurgency-related activity.

Attracting crowds of during slightest 40,000-50,000 from opposite a region, a day-long eventuality was a largest open countenance of Muslim restlessness with state process in decades. 

It was also undoubtedly seen by a BRN as a matter for anti-state domestic mobilisation, a form of onslaught towards that a celebration now appears increasingly to be leaning.

The manly symbolism substantial in a shrill yet delicately calibrated arrangement of troops energy in a run-up to a mass mobilisation of domestic gainsay can frequency have been ignored by BRN planners.

For a certainty army a take-away is frequency comforting: a BRN is not usually still a force to be reckoned with militarily, yet one that is seeking to figure a plan and plan to a wider finish of long-term domestic subversion.

Anthony Davis is a certainty consultant and researcher with IHS-Jane’s.

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