"U.S.-Thailand relations are of interest to Congress because of Thailand's status as a long-time military ally and a significant trade and economic partner. However, ties have been complicated by deep political and economic instability in the wake of the September 2006 coup that displaced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. After December 2007 parliamentary elections returned many of Thaksin's supporters to power, the U.S. government lifted the restrictions on aid imposed after the coup and worked to restore bilateral ties. Since then, street demonstrations have rocked Bangkok, two prime ministers have been forced to step down because of court decisions, and a tenuous new coalition has taken over the government. Many questions remain on how relations will fare as Bangkok seeks political stability. With Thai nationalism apparently on the rise, some analysts see a risk of drift in the U.S.-Thai relationship, although no major shift in overall cooperation. [...]. With its favorable geographic location and broad-based economy, Thailand has traditionally been considered among the most likely countries to play a major leadership role in Southeast Asia and has been an aggressive advocate of increased economic integration in the region. A founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand maintains close ties with China and is pursuing FTAs with a number of other countries. Given its ties with the United States, Thailand's stature in the region may affect broader U.S. foreign policy objectives and prospects for further multilateral economic and security cooperation in Southeast Asia. This report will be updated periodically."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32593