The nations of Southeast Asia have united in efforts to prevent a US-backed coup aimed at fellow-Southeast Asian state Cambodia.
Through a combination of travel bans and detentions across the region in late October and early November, Southeast Asia may have thwarted attempts by Washington-backed opposition front, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from “returning” from its US and European exile to Cambodia where it sought to stir up unrest and sow instability.
The US seeks to disrupt, divide and even destroy the growing list of nations in Asia building ties with Beijing at the expense of Washington’s fading primacy over the Asia-Pacific region.
Cambodia is among the staunchest of Beijing’s allies in Southeast Asia.
Under the Radar
With multiple US wars raging across the globe, Washington’s ongoing trade war with China and Russophobic hysteria paralysing America’s domestic political landscape, the rarely-mentioned nation of Cambodia and its political affairs couldn’t be further from the global public’s attention.
Using this obscurity as cover, the US began low-key preparations ahead of what the US had hoped would end in much more widely reported protests, instability and, if other nations suffering US regime change efforts is anything to go by, extensive violence.
Preparations included moving CNRP members from their US and European homes-in-exile to neighbouring Southeast Asian states. There, Western media organisations and US-European funded fronts posing as rights organisations conducted conferences and published articles promoting their planned “return” to Cambodia.While these preparations were promoted by Western media organisations operating in Southeast Asia, they collectively omitted mention of US involvement or the much wider implications of the US organising what was essentially a coup attempt in Cambodia.
Had the US succeeded in triggering chaos in Cambodia, it would have fed synergistically into ongoing US-fomented instability in Hong Kong, China as well as opened the door to other US-funded groups across Southeast Asia eager to engage in political unrest.
Thai political opposition party “Future Forward,” for example, appears to have been planning unrest timed to coincide with CNRP’s return to Cambodia.
Asia Unites Against US Coup Attempt
However, these preparations appear to have been in vain.
In late October Thailand had denied CNRP deputy leader Mu Sochua entry into their territory where she had sought to then travel onward into Cambodia.
Al Jazeera would report in their article, “Questions over Rainsy’s Cambodia return after deputy turned back,” that:
The deputy leader of Cambodia’s opposition party has been denied entry to Thailand, casting doubt on party leader Sam Rainsy’s pledge to return from exile in Paris in early November.
Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Vice-President Mu Sochua was denied entry in Bangkok on October 20 and sent back to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. From there, she headed to the United States, where she is also a citizen.
The article also notes that:
CNRP President Kem Sokha was arrested for treason in September 2017, and Sochua fled the country the following month. By November the party was dissolved entirely, allowing long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen to claim all 125 parliament seats in last year’s election.
Souchua would eventually be detained in Malaysia as she attempted to proceed onward to Cambodia.
Thailand would next bar CNRP leader Sam Rainsy from his attempted return to Cambodia via Thai territory. Both Thailand and Malaysia cited the principles of non-interference and an unwillingness to abet the political destabilisation of a fellow ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member state.
Associated Press and Reuters in their article, “Prayut bars Sam Rainsy as Asean spat spreads,” would claim:
Thailand would not allow entry to Cambodian opposition founder Sam Rainsy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday, after the self-exiled dissident said he planned to return to Cambodia via Bangkok.
The article would also claim:
Hun Sen has accused the opposition of fomenting a coup, and his government has arrested at least 48 activists with Sam Rainsy’s banned opposition party this year. The party’s last leader remains under house arrest on treason charges.
Missing from Al Jazeera, AP and Reuters’ reports and that of every other report from the Western media regarding Cambodia’s opposition CNRP is the fact that “the party’s last leader,” Kem Sokha, himself had openly admitted that he was conspiring with the US government to overthrow the current Cambodian government making him an obvious traitor by any and every definition of the word.
Cambodia’s Opposition Serves Washington’s War on China
The Phnom Penh Post in a 2017 article titled, “Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear,” would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha.He is quoted as admitting:
“…the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic,” he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.
“You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this.”
“However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed.”
“I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia.”
As previously reported, Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya, has also openly worked with the US for years seeking the overthrow of the Cambodian government.
When Cambodia began its crackdown on both CNRP and the US-funded organisations supporting it, the US threatened sanctions and other punitive measures. Kem Monovithya would play a central role in promoting these punitive measures in Washington.
The Phonom Post in a December 2017 article titled, “US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown,” would claim:
…in Washington, a panel of “witnesses” convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee – including Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya – called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend “any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government”, while “continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters”.
Like her farther, Kem Monovithya’s collaboration with the US government goes back much further. The Washington Post in a 2006 article titled, “While in U.S., Cambodians Get a Lesson on Rights From Home,” would first admit:
Kem Sokha, a former Cambodian senator and official, heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which is supported by U.S. government funds. The center has held public forums to hear complaints about conditions in Cambodia.
Regarding Kem Monovithya herself, the Washington Post would note:
Monovitha Kem, a business school graduate and aspiring lawyer, said she would lobby U.S. and international institutions to fight Hun Sen’s decision.
“I would like to see the charges dropped not just for my father, but for all other activists,” she said in an interview Monday. “I hope they will amend the defamation law.”
Monovitha Kem has met with officials at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development and major human rights groups.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) are both subsidiaries of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which, together with the US government itself, have supported myriad organisations engaged in subversive activities within Cambodia for years.
This includes Licadho, which is funded by both the UK government and the US via USAID. It also includes Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which are funded by the US government and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors chaired by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo himself.
There is also the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, funded by NED subsidiaries Freedom House and IRI as well as the British Embassy and convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
Decades of US Meddling Coming to an End?
Decades of US meddling in Cambodia’s politics, including the creation of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha’s opposition CNRP and organisations created and funded by the US government to support it, along with plans to overthrow the current Cambodian government to install CNRP into power, represents in reality political meddling many times worse than even the most imaginative accusations made against Russia or China in regards to their supposed meddling in US and European politics.
However, with Southeast Asia’s recent and united stand against US designs against Cambodia, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of US meddling in Southeast Asia all together. But US meddling worldwide, including across Asia, is so extensive, embedded in local media, academia and politics, that it will take years more to fully uproot it from the region.
While the malign influence of Wall Street, Washington, London and Brussels persists well beyond its borders continuing a legacy of colonialism that exploited and suppressed Southeast Asia for centuries, the foiling of an attempted US-backed coup in Cambodia owed to a united stand by regional nations offers promising hope that this malign influence is now finally in terminal decline.
Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.