Thailand’s failing democracy: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha insists his road map for Thai democracy is still on track but the prospects for promised polls in 2018 are fast fading away, writes Shawn W. Crispin. While Prayuth’s absolute grip on power has started to slip, with new challenges from within the military and a more assertive monarchy, this former solider does not seem ready to yield anything to opposing politicians or anti-junta activists.
Trump no pushover: Many in the Washington’s foreign policy establishment think that Trump has been played by Xi Jinping and his team of seasoned diplomats. Yet, writes Christopher Scott, while US-China relations, at a high-point not seen for some time, have given the Chinese good reasons to celebrate, Beijing needs to understand: Trump really can’t abide losing.
Philippines, terror grows: As President Rodrigo Duterte weighs the costs of Islamic State’s devastation of Marawi City, another of its affiliated groups has launched an assault in nearby North Cotabato. Jason Castaneda reports that, as fighting in Marawi continues, it is unclear how many Islamic State-linked fighters have escaped to other parts of the Philippines and the North Cotabato assault has so far seen attacks on homes and a school and hostages have been taken.
Holiday in Pyongyang? After University of Virginia student Otto Wambier’s returned to the US in a coma and subsequently died, thrill-seeking tourists should chose another isolated country to visit. North Korea-watcher, Bradley K. Martin writes that since Kim Jong-un, the young and exceedingly thin-skinned third-generation ruler, came into power, everything has changed in North Korea.
Saudi’s big gamble: The aging king of Saudi Arabia issued a stunning royal decree on Wednesday when he removed his nephew, the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef, from office and appointed his own son, Mohammad Bin Salman, as heir to the Saudi throne. Sami Moubayed writes that Bin Salman is popular with younger Saudis – he looks set to be the youngest king in Saudi Arabia’s history – but is also viewed by many as erratic and impervious to advice.