The conflict in southern Thailand, which many will associate with the last ten years, has in fact existed since the late 19th century. What we must understand is that even though Buddhism is central to Thai identity, the southern Patani region has fought to carry on its own identity as a Malay state, where the majority of the population are Muslim. This is a complex situation, which needs the support and agreement of a number of players, and has yet to find a solution.
1The conflict in southern Thailand is concentrated in the Patani region where 5,500 people have been killed since 2004. The majority of those killed have been Malay Muslims, but there has also been violence against Buddhists, and numbers are frequently contested.
2Because Buddhism is an integral component of Thai national identity, it is difficult to disassociate religion from the insurgency, especially when the source of the challenge also stems from a religious minority.
3The Thai state suffers from internal fragmentation, preventing a political solution. Regional intermediaries have failed to engage a broad enough set of participants, and it is difficult to identify key players for negotiation; however peace talks commenced again in December 2014.