And the Winner is …
+ Nobody won.
That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from the chaotic events in Thailand over the past few days.
+ Not the red-shirted
… United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), whose attempted uprising degenerated into a series of chaotic clashes with the army that left a wake of destruction on the streets of Bangkok.
+ Not Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva either.
Although he clawed back a lot of his authority through the successful military operation to disperse the UDD protesters, the promise he made on taking office four months ago to promote reconciliation in his country now looks hollow.
+ Not the army,
which carried out the unpleasant task of clearing the streets with growing confidence, and surprisingly light casualties.
Its decision to suppress these protesters, when it did nothing about the equally damaging actions of the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) last year, makes a mockery of its claim to be a neutral force.
That and the 2006 coup that deposed Thaksin Shinawatra have irrevocably tarnished its image with a sizable part of the Thai population.
+ Not the police,
who are now such a diminished and demoralised force that almost no-one in Thailand expected them to play any role in the recent disorder.
When confronted by a few thousand unarmed protesters at the Asian summit in Pattaya, they offered only token resistance. In Bangkok they were essentially invisible. Without a functioning police force, the rule of law that Mr Abhisit has talked of so often becomes very precarious.
+ And finally, not Thaksin Shinawatra,
whose melodramatic call for a people’s uprising fell flat, and who is still stuck in exile, without a secure place of refuge.
No Winners in Thailand’s Crisis
By Jonathan Head BBC News, Bangkok