Accession Number:

ADA478323

Title:

Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2005-01-13

Pagination or Media Count:

22.0

Abstract:

U.S.-Thailand relations are of interest to Congress because of Thailands status as a long-time military ally with ongoing relevance to U.S. logistical operations in Iraq, a key country in the war against terrorism in Southeast Asia, and a significant trade and economic partner. A proposed U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement FTA, currently being negotiated, would require implementing legislation to take effect. Despite differences on Burma policy and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided the basis for U.S.-Thai cooperation. Bangkok and Washington coordinate closely on law enforcement, intelligence, and military operations. Thailand contributed troops and support for U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was designated as a major non-NATO ally by President Bush in December 2003. Thailands airfields and ports play a particularly important role in U.S. global military strategy, including serving as the primary hub of the relief effort for the Indian Ocean tsunami. The high-profile arrest of radical Islamic leader Hambali in a joint Thai-U.S. operation underscores Thailands role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. If negotiations for an FTA are successful, the current U.S.-Thai bilateral trade total of 20 billion could rise considerably. Current Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his populist Thai Rak Thai party have consolidated broad control of Thai politics and continue to enjoy widespread public support, although opposition parties and others have criticized his strongman style as a threat to Thailands democratic institutions. The central governments forceful response to a surge of violence in the southern majority-Muslim provinces of Thailand has also come under fire from some observers. A series of attacks by insurgents, which has claimed over 500 lives, has renewed concerns about both indigenous and transnational terrorism in the country.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE