Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sitrep - Aug 19, 2015

A bomb in the Thailand capital Bangkok killed 22 people on August 17. A second device exploded after falling into the Chao Phraya river, but failed to cause any casualties.

Thai police say they are looking for a suspect responsible for both explosives but are unclear on the motive. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. Thailand is grappling with a low-level insurgency in its south which has killed more than 6500 people since 2004, and the country is currently controlled by a junta after the military led a coup in May 2014.

The attack could be a response to general and junta leader Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s promise recently to remove martial law and replace it with new legal rules. However, lawmakers and human rights activists say the new rules could consolidate Mr Prayuth’s absolute rule over the country.

In Europe over the weekend, negotiations to approve a third bailout for Greece ended with a promise of 86 billion euros for the country. The bailout will be delivered in tranches over three years set to coincide with the imposition of expected reforms and austerity measures as carrot-and-stick.

The ruling Syriza party only marginally passed the bailout deal when 43 of its members abstained in protest. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to rely on opposition support to succeed, bringing into question how much control Mr Tsipras actually holds over his own party. Early Greek elections before the end of the year are now much more likely.

In Iraq, weeks of demonstrations have graduated from general complaints about electricity shortages to direct focusing on the al-Abadi government and widespread corruption. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi responded to the protests by submitting a range of reform proposals to parliament.

More surprising than the inclusion of scrapping the ethnic and factional “quota” system of Iraqi politics was the overwhelming support the reform package received from other members of parliament, including opposition figures. Rather than consolidate control over Iraq however, these reforms are likely to pull the country even further apart.

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