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Impossible dream?

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For a ceasefire to succeed, both sides need to want it to succeed. That may not be the case in the current border conflict. 

Ban Phum Srol villagers head back to their community after having been evacuated days ago due to clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops along the border. JETJARAS NA RANONG

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Ceasefire may well be an impossible dream

Wassana Nanuam

The road towards a permanent ceasefire between Thailand and Cambodia – which the UN Security Council has appealed for – has developed new twists after Cambodian troops resumed their attacks on Thai troops before dawn yesterday.

Over the past three years, most of the clashes between Thailand and Cambodia have occurred in the Phu Makhua mountain area west of the Preah Vihear Temple.

Fresh clashes erupted on Feb 4 and after a temporary lull, broke out again yesterday in that area.

Could it be a harbinger of more to come? Will it make even a temporary ceasefire difficult to achieve? How can the two countries achieve a permanent ceasefire when Cambodia seems not to want it?

To some observers, Cambodia's real intent is to push the UNSC into a corner and leave it with no choice but to send peacekeeping troops to the disputed areas.

Rocket damage leaves a family's back garden in ruins.

At Phu Makhua, located in the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area, Thai and Cambodian troops are only about 30 metres apart.

Phu Makhua, or Phanom Trop in Khmer, is considered highly strategic by both sides.

From this spot, Thai troops can observe all activities at Preah Vihear temple. Naturally, Cambodia's military wants to control it.

Strategically, control over the mountain is important for many reasons. Earlier, most areas of Phu Makhua were under the control of the Thai military.

But since Thai troops adjusted their forces in the area, resulting in some troops withdrawing from Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Temple, next to Phu Makhua, Cambodian troops have quietly infiltrated the area.

"So far, Cambodian troops occupy about 5% of Phu Makhua," army sources said.

Apart from Phu Makhua, other important strategic spots in the disputed areas are Lan Insee (Eagle Ground) and the old Thai border patrol police outpost in front of Pha More I Dang. They are all high-ground areas from which Thai troops can observe the activities on Cambodian soil.

By attempting to seize a greater area of Phu Makhua from the Thai troops, the Cambodian military can gain a strategic advantage in the battle to control the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area, a source said.

"We don't want to move to seize other areas," Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said. Yet the Thai military has deployed more than 23,000 troops along with powerful war weapons at the border area. Cambodia might have mobilised about the same number of troops on its side of the border.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wants the UN to intervene in the border dispute as he believes it will give his country greater political leverage over Thailand in the realm of international politics. The Cambodian leader, who is keen on international politics, also wants to take control over the largest portion of the 4.6 square kilometre disputed areas as possible.

For this reason, even with an agreement to institute a ceasefire, the Cambodian military could resume their attacks against Thai troops at any time.

evacuate – to leave a place because it is not safe อพยพออกจากพื้นที่
clash – a brief fight between two or more people การปะทะกันสองฝ่าย
troops – soldiers, especially in large numbers กองทหาร
border – the official line separating two areas, regions or countries  เขตแดน อาณาเขต
ceasefire – an agreement to top fighting for a period of time, especially in order to discuss permanent peace การหยุดยิง
permanent – happening or existing for a long time or for all time in the future ถาวร 
UN Security Council (UNSC) – one of the main agencies of the United Nations and in the maintenance of international peace and security  สภาความมั่นคงแห่งสหประชาชาติ
appeal – an urgent request for people to do something or behave in a particular way ร้องขอ
twist– an unexpected event or development
resume – to begin again after stopping for a period of time  เริ่มอีกครั้ง, กลับมาอีกครั้ง
dawn – the beginning of the day, when it begins to get light รุ่งอรุณ, เช้าตรู่
erupt – to start suddenly ปะทุขึ้น
temporary – done or used for only a limited period of time, i.e., not permanent ชั่วคราว
lull – a quiet period between times of activity ภาวะสงบนิ่ง, ภาวะหยุดนิ่ง,
harbinger – a sign that shows that something is going to happen soon, often something bad อาเพศ
intent – your plan or purpose จุดประสงค์
disputed area – an area claimed by two or more countries, groups or people  พื้นที่ที่เป็นกรณีพิพาท
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่
strategic – important for achieving a particular goal, especially in war, business, or politics ทางยุทธศาสตร์
spot – the particular place where someone or something is  ที่, สถานที่
observe – to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกตการณ์
naturally – in a way that you would expect  แน่นอน, อย่างที่คาดไว้
adjust – to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable ปรับ
withdraw – to move out or back ถอนตัวจาก
infiltrate – to enter or make somebody enter a place or an organization secretly, especially in order to get information that can be used against it แทรกซึมเข้าไป
occupy – to be in control of a place that you entered by force as a group ยึดครอง
source – someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
patrol – to move regularly around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime or to watch for an enemy ลาดตระเวน
border patrol – a group of police officers who patrol the borders of a country
outpost – a small military camp away from the main army, used for watching an enemy's movements, etc  ค่ายทหารเล็กๆ
seize – to take control of a place or situation using military force  เข้ายึดพื้นที่
advantage – a condition giving a greater chance of success ความได้เปรียบ
deploy – (of police or soldiers) to put in place ready for action ส่ง (ทหารตำรวจ) ประจำการ
mobilise – (of soldiers, police or other groups of people) to prepare to do something such as fight a war  เตรียมกำลังพร้อมรบ
intervene – to become involved in a situation in order to try to stop or change it  แทรกแซง
leverage – power to influence people and get the results you want อิทธิพล
keen – very interested, eager or wanting (to do) something very much สนใจ, ใจจดใจจ่อ
portion – a part of something ส่วน
institute – to introduce a system, policy, etc. or start a process   เริ่ม, จัดตั้ง

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