The United States wound up its 12 year major military presence in Thailand on Tuesday (20 July).
The United States wound up its 12 year major military presence in Thailand on Tuesday (20 July). A once powerful force of 10,000 troops has been cut down to fewer than 350 military advisors, embassy guards and scientists. The withdrawal comes at a time when some groups in Thailand are claiming that the country is moving towards a left-owing takeover.
SYNOPSIS: In the capital, Bangkok, there were demonstrations on Monday (19 July) by right-wing students. They were protesting about recent anti-US actions of left-wing group called the National Student Centre of Thailand. It was left-owing students who demonstrated for three days in May 1975 after the United States used its U-Tapao base in Thailand for launching its rescue operation of the ship, Mayaguez. The ship had been seized by Cambodian authorities near the island of Koh Tang and the US launched an operation to retrieve the Mayaguez and its crew. But the Thai government condemned the US for failing to consult Thailand before making use of the bases. The operation finally led to an expulsion order on all US forces in Thailand.
But memories of the Communist victories in neighbouring Indochina are fresh in the minds of many right-wing Thai groups. An official communique recently stated that Thai government forces had killed 150 guerrillas in recent anti-insurgent operations in Northern Thailand. But a conservative coalition government came to power last April and has been trying to reassure right-wing groups that communism poses no threat.
Mr. Seni Pramoj, Thailand's Prime Minister, appeared on television to say that the American withdrawal would not cause an increase in guerrilla activity. But other weren't so sure as the last American families left Thailand. The nearest active United States bases are now in South Korea and the Philippines. One Thai Minister, Mr. Samak Sundarajev, has disagreed with his government's foreign policy, notably its efforts to improve relations with communist countries in Indochina. Now everybody is waiting to see what happens now that the American shave left.