15th February 2011
I have suspected all along that Cambodia's complaint to the UN Security Council about the "Thai invasion" would fail and is a waste of time. My suspicion have proved correct after the UNSC rejected Cambodia's request of a troop deployment as a buffer zone between Cambodian and Thai troops and referred the Cambodian-Thai conflict to the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), a spineless and toothless organisation.
The Thais have won a diplomatic victory by achieving its wish of a bilateral or regional approach to the conflict and successfully lobbying the UNSC from not taking on the case further. This would leave Cambodia at a severe disadvantage as after 2 and a half years of bilateral talks have produced nothing, but have caused for more tensions and armed clashes. The UNSC should be taking into account the damages to Preah Vihear temple, the Thai troops' use of cluster bombs and alleged use of poison gas/chemical weapons into considerations when making a decision to wash its hand off the conflict.
The meeting of the 10 members of Asean scheduled for 22nd February will result in disappointment for Cambodia, for the 10 members will recommend the two parties, Cambodia and Thailand, return to the bilateral negotiating table.
I can confidently predict that there will be more armed clashes as Cambodia would not budge on giving the 4.6 sq. km of land demanded by Thailand and Thailand will continually attempt to get it by force as has been happened that resulted in at least 4 deadly armed clashes so far.
It is not clear what evidences Cambodia had shown the UNSC members or what angle of argument or cases it had presented to the UNSC meeting. The request for a "UN buffer zone" is not a strong case as UN peace-keeping force is overstretched. The claim for "war" with Thailand from 4-7 February is not very convincing because it only happened sporadically for 4 days and at the time of the UNSC meeting, the fighting had stopped for 7 days already.
Cambodia, in my opinion, should present a case of the"Thai invasion" of Cambodian territory to the UNSC by presenting maps showing that the fighting had occurred inside Cambodia and that Thai troops had encroached 1.2 to 1.6 km inside Cambodian territory.
From a Cambodian perspective, the Preah Vihear case is a lost cause for Cambodia. I can predict that the 4.6 sq. km will have to be ceded to Thailand or at least shared with Thailand in exchange for peace in the area.
Cambodia must bring the case to the International Court of Justice to request it to re-interpret the 1962 verdict. If the case is successful, then Thailand is under the obligation to withdraw its troops from the area like in 1962. But for now, the Thais can have reasons to celebrate on the streets of Bangkok.