"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. For many years, Thailand was also seen as a model of stable democracy in Southeast Asia, although this image, along with U.S. relations, have been complicated by deep political and economic instability in the wake of a September 2006 coup that displaced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a popular but divisive figure who remains a flashpoint for many divisions within Thailand. In recent years, Thai politics have been dominated by rivalries between populist forces led by Thaksin (now in exile) and his opponents, a mix of conservative royalists and military figures, and other Bangkok elites. Despite his exile, pro-Thaksin political parties have won the three nationwide elections since his ouster, and the current government is led by his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Mass movements both supporting and opposing Thaksin have staged vigorous demonstrations, including protests in 2010 that spilled over to riots in Bangkok and other cities, causing the worst street violence in Thailand in decades. Large-scale anti-Thaksin demonstrations in November and December 2013 forced Prime Minister Yingluck to dissolve Parliament and call for nationwide elections in February 2014. […] Although the alliance itself does not appear to be fundamentally shaken by Thailand's political events of the past few years, Bangkok's reliability as a partner, and its ability to be a regional leader, are uncertain. Successive Thai governments have also been unable to stem violence by insurgents in the southern majority-Muslim provinces."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32593
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html