What happens in Yala, won’t always stay in Yala. The insurgents have the technical capacity and a demonstrated willingness to engage in mass casualty attacks, such as the 6 October 2009 car bombing of the Merlin Hotel in Narathiwat’s Sungai Golok.
But we should be concerned for a number of reasons: First, there is no end in sight. The government has made little headway in defeating the insurgents or winning back the hearts and minds of the local population. This remains the most lethal conflict in Southeast Asia. While we are inured by the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, small conflicts left to fester do not benefit anyone’s security. Conflicts feed off another and become part of the jihadist narrative. Second, this is a lawless and ungoverned space in the heart of Southeast Asia.
For interested readers, some critical reviews of Abuza’s previous research on terrorism in Southeast Asia are available here (by Graham Brown via Michael K. Connors), here (by John Sidel) and here (by a “Correspondent”).