Cambodia Blog 13
Hoping for Peace
February 7th 2011
By this time you may have heard about the fighting on the border with Thailand. We first heard about it on Friday from a somewhat scarily excited tuktuk driver, but only today does it seem to have caught international news. Here is what I have gleaned from watching the news and snooping on the internet:
- There is a temple called Preah Vihear that stands on the Thai-Cambodian border. The United Nations declared it part of Cambodia decades ago, but it can only be accessed from Thailand. The Cambodians started to build a road in Thai territory to reach it, and this started the tensions.
- Each side blames the other for starting the shooting.
- Five troops have been killed, and a few taken prisoner.
- The Cambodian prime minister is calling for the United Nations to step in and resolve the issue.
- Thai people are protesting in Bangkok, demanding that Cambodian troops be ejected from the area.
These are the facts, as much as I can find out. My analysis is this situation has no danger to me or anyone not in the immediate area. We are all a bit worried about escalation. The Thai and Cambodian people have a long and unpleasant history, and right now Cambodia is in the position of being the bitter, poor, and fiercely nationalist underdog. This is not a good position to be in, especially for a country were saving face is extremely important. However, anyone with half a brain cell can see that antagonizing the much richer and more powerful Thailand is ludicrous. International pressure to maintain peace will be great, ad the two countries are also very dependant on tourist dollars, which will dry up immediately if the regions become even vaguely dangerous. So there are a lot of really compelling reasons that this won’t become a problem, but still we will be watching the story closely. If you are the praying type I hope you will pray that no more lives are lost in this stupid conflict.
Here is a map showing the fighting (marked with red) relative to Phnom Penh were I live (marked in purple), practically as far from it as I can be! :-)