BY YIQIAN ZHANG
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Thailand and Cambodia could be on the brink of war -- all over an 11th-century temple. Back in 1962, the World Court ruled the temple -- Preah Vihear -- belongs to Cambodia. Ever since, Thailand has refused to accept the ruling. Then, the temple was designated a World Heritage Site in 2008. Since then, the tension has only increased. It all boiled over beginning last Friday, and clashes near the temple have killed as many as seven people.
Thailand’s prime minister insists these are small clashes -- skirmishes -- and nothing more. But Cambodia’s prime minister says otherwise.
Hun Sen: “He called these armed clashes. But I told him they were not. This is war. So Cambodia is asking the UN security council to call immediate meeting on this situation.”
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister is simply trying to restore peace.
Korn Chatikavanij: “There’s no saber-rattling on our part. And I think it’s quite clear that there has been no victory cry on the part of the Thai government. We’ve moved as quickly as possible and consistently so during the two or three days of fighting that did break out to try to bring the fighting to a halt.”
An analyst for global intelligence website STRATFOR says domestic politics in both countries isfueling the conflict at the border.
“...on the Thai side you have elections approaching which are supposed to be held during the first half of the year, these are very contentious elections and that’s forced all the special interest groups and factions in Thai politics to push on their major issues.”
The Council on Foreign Relations blames the Thailand’s domestic politics -- namely -- the fact Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva doesn’t seem to have control over the country’s military.
“On the Thai side, the conflict is being pushed by nationalists linked to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, but the military men taking action along the border often seem to be doing so either without informing Abhisit or informing his office well after the fact.”
The UN security council responded to a plea by Cambodia and will meet with both nations on Monday.
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