News / Asia

Thailand-Cambodia Dispute a Test for ASEAN

Cambodian soldiers carry their weapons near Preah Vihear temple along the border with Thailand, February 6, 2011
Cambodian soldiers carry their weapons near Preah Vihear temple along the border with Thailand, February 6, 2011
Brian Padden

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is trying to negotiate an end to the clash between Thai and Cambodian forces. The fighting is the most serious conflict ever seen between two ASEAN countries and is seen as a test of the organization's ability to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa traveled to Phnom Penh on Monday. Indonesia has the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is trying to persuade Bangkok and Phnom Penh to call a ceasefire and negotiate an end to fighting that began Friday.

On Monday, fighting was again reported near the Preah Vihear Hindu temple, a 900-year-old along the border.

The fighting has rattled other members of ASEAN, and challenges one of its main purposes - to maintain stability and peace in the region. Some regional security experts say the organization's core principle of not interfering in the internal affairs of its members limits its effectiveness.

Carl Thayer, a Southeast Asia specialist with the Australian Defense Force Academy, is concerned by the lack of restraint by both sides. He calls the escalating conflict the most serious dispute between ASEAN members since the organization was founded in the 1960s.

"I am worried about good command and control and the politicization of the issue," Thayer admitted. "In other words this is not the way two ASEAN countries should be behaving. And if it is the rules of engagement are tit for tat, that is a sad commentary on the professionalism of the forces on either side."

Thayer says resolving this crisis will be a test for the Indonesia, as chairman of ASEAN. Because Indonesia is a respected, neutral party, Thayer says Natalegawa could succeed in persuading both sides to pull back before the entire region is affected.

"It can bring home to Cambodia the impact this is going to have on its neighbors," Thayer said. "It affects overall perceptions of the region and its ability to put its house in order and therefore those countries that more virtuous and better governed are punished for the action of Thailand or Cambodia because of exaggerated nationalist claims."

Thayer says Natalegawa is likely to propose a number of measures to stabilize the situation, such as removing troops from the area, and allowing in foreign observers to make assessments.

If mediation fails, Thayer says ASEAN can impose economic sanctions but it has never in the past taken coercive measures on one of its members.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More