D RY roads capable of supporting tanks and artillery made the Cambodian government's
offensive this dry season possible, but the Khmer Rouge and Royalist resistance fighters
are apparently hoping the same conditions will allow them to export timber to finance
their guerrilla war.
While Cambodia's northern border with Thailand has been officially sealed since July's
factional fighting, the environmental group Global Witness has discovered that a
road between the resistance-controlled border town of O'Smach and the KR base of
Anlong Veng has been resurfaced.
The road would presumably be used to export 60,000 cubic meters of logs - valued
at $13.8 million - that have been stuck in the Anlong Veng area just 500m from the
The United States' staunch anti-KR policy and the sporadic presence of US officials
monitoring the border opposite KR zones has kept the hardliners from selling the
timber, Global Witness investigator Simon Taylor said.
"It's going to be a hard job for the resistance to get the logs out. The resistance
is linked to the Khmer Rouge, and the American policy is against the Khmer Rouge,
so... the Americans will be putting a lot of pressure on the Thais to keep the border
But reports of the newly-grated road and a Thai logging firm's movement of saw mill
equipment to the Chong Chom pass opposite O'Smach indicate the rebels have discovered
a way to get the wood out. One source told Global Witness of timber stockpiled at
the border crossing.
"It's Ta Mok's wood basically," Taylor said. "If it has moved out
of Anlong Veng, then the Khmer Rouge are already making money on it."
Although an export ban on raw timber has been in force since the end of last year,
a Global Witness report that the Thai Buntho 948 Co is currently negotiating a deal
with the Royal Government for the export of 100,000 cubic meters of logs indicates
that the ban is not being respected.
"There are so many stories coming across, the feeling is that the Thai border
is a thin skin waiting to break," Taylor said. "[An export ban is] meaningless
without the political will to enforce it."