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The Journey of Prince Sihanouk
Scenario to overthrow Prince Sihanouk and CIA traces in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand
Author : Hendrajit, Executive Director of the Global Future Institute

"Right-wing groups in Phnom Penh have been fishing in troubled waters as long as I was not in Cambodia. They want Cambodia to move into the American camp." (Prince Norodom Sihanouk, March 10, 1970)


Prince Norodom Sihanouk died at the age of 89. He was not only remembered as the king of Cambodia, but he came in a series of Asian leaders who had experienced the dynamics of the Cold War in the 1950s to the late 1980s. Sihanouk was also listed as one of the heads of state / government in Asia that are included in the target of operations of the U.S. intelligence agency (CIA) for refusing to enter the Washington's orbit of influence, so Sihanouk became the target of black propaganda carried out by the U.S. and its western allies for considering him as the agenct of the communist-leaning Soviet Union and China.
In fact, as Soekarno from Indonesia and some other Asian leaders, Sihanouk was in the row of Asian da African leaders who wants the establishment of the "third force" which does not favor the U.S. / Western European liberal capitalist poles and not favor communist leanings which were in the time orchestrated by the Soviet Union and the China. In other words, Sihanouk was one of figures supporting the Non-Aligned Movement.
As a result, the CIA later arranged coup scenario with the help of right-wing Cambodian military officers led by General Lon Nol. In my book, U.S. Hands: U.S. Covert Operations in various Parts of the World, the story of a coup against Sihanouk had vividly illustrates how dramatic the coup plot designed by Washington. Because the U.S. agenda behind the overthrow of Sihanouk as Cambodia's leader deeply rooted among his people, is to internationalize the Vietnam War. And Sihanouk, is seen as a factor that could hinder, even frustrate the Washington's scenario.
Because since 1960, Sihanouk had always tried hard to prevent the spread of the Indochina war, so with his stand, Sihanouk made himself the leader of Cambodia that could be accepted by all factions, including the left-wing groups. Parties opposed to the Sihanouk's political lines  are right-wing business groups and anti-communist zealot faction of the military. Certainly the Sihanouk's foreign policy stance against expanding the Indochina war was regarded to have been opposed to the U.S.  schemes that actually want widespread escalation of the Indochina war. By doing so, Sihanouk Automatically took a stand against the schemes aimed at internationalizing the Vietnam war waged by Washington.
The Indochina War had been waged by the U.S. since 1964, during the time of President Lyndon B Johson and was then continued by President Richard Nixon in 1968, until the time of the coup against Sihanouk on 18 March 1970.
It is interesting to note that since the Indochina war waged, the U.S. used Thailand and Okinawa as bases and centers of both military and intelligence operations. In military operations, especially when conducting the bombing against South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the U.S. used its military bases in Thailand, Taiwan, Okinawa, Hawaii, the Philippines and Guam.
Also in Thailand, the U.S. used it as a military base for attacking communist forces in Cambodia. So when the U.S. air force bombed North Laos and North Vietnam, Thailand was the bombing command center used by the U.S. forces, particularly the military base named Udorn Air Base.
Sihanouk increasingly showed his overt stance against Washington's policy to fight against communists in Cambodia, when in 1969 the flamboyant Prince and a close friend of Soekarno, desperately prevented Cambodia from moving into the scheme of internationalizing the Vietnam war, and took a neutral stance by maintaining political balance in Cambodia. This was the peak of the Washington's annoyance which eventually led to the open support of right-wing military led by General Lon Nol to displace Sihanouk on March 18, 1970.
After Sihanouk could be overthrown, practically the destabilization occured in the Indochina region. On the one hand, the right-wing supported by the U.S. could master and take over political control, and at the same time Sihanouk and his supporters would not want to be in one camp with a variety of left-wing elements of both communist and left nationalist .
Since March 18, 1970, the leaders of leftist Rouge Khmer had been managed to persuade Sihanouk to jointly fight against the U.S. imperialism. At this tand, it is really ironic that the Cambodian right wing and military conspiracy could force Sihanouk into the Communist camp, in this case, the pro-Beijing communist.
Sihanouk himself as a politician with enough experience and was still relatively young, already felt he was the target of operations of CIA and Cambodian right-wing factions.
"Right-wing groups in Phnom Penh have been fishing in troubled waters as long as I was not in Cambodia. They want Cambodia move into the American camp," said Sihanouk when on the sidelines of his trip in France. In addition, in a press conference, Sihanouk said that in recent times, there have been held intensive contacts between the right-wing military officers and CIA in addition to warning of the danger of a coup, and all this depends on the attitude of the military.
Finally Sihanouk could not survive, because General Lon Nol controlling the Cambodian armed forces as a military commander, was more in favor of the Deputy Prime Minister Sirik Matak and his right wing groups. And Sirik Matak, in the eyes of Sihanouk, had intensively established intensive contacts with the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh since the embassy was opened in 1969.
What is interesting from the story of the overthrow of Sihanouk is the involvement of the Indonesian military when it was under the control of General Suharto who also successfully masterminded the fall of Soekarno due to the help of the CIA. A study conducted by Julie Southwood and Petrcik Flanagan in their book titled: Indonesia, Law, propaganda and Terror, reveals the Lon Nol's close relationship with Suharto. Since 1965, approximately 2 months after Suharto succeeded in orchestrating the overthrow of Sukarno, a team of Cambodian military officials secretly visited Indonesia to learn how Suharto overthrew President Soekarno.
From the facts revealed by the two researchers, the visit of the Cambodian military officers to Indonesia, must be known from the beginning by the Indonesian military that there would be  the coup of March 18, 1970.
Even more surprising, one of the junctions between the Lon Nol military officers and the U.S. was the Indonesian embassy in Phnom Penh. Indonesia seemed to have two tasks: on the one hand it should give advice to Lon Nol about battle tactics, on the other hand it should provide a defense intelligence report to the U.S. about the Lon Nol's plan.
It is clear that the traces of CIA in its covert operations to overthrow Sihanouk could not only be seen clearly in Cambodia, but also involved a network of its accomplices in Indonesia and Thailand.
But U.S. Not always Successful
Since 1975-1976, the Rouge Khmer forces fully supported by the People's Republic of China (PRC), finally managed to conquer the Gen. Lon Nol's right-wing military forces. So practically Cambodia fell into the communist-leaning Beijing-China. And of course, it also expelled the U.S. troops from Cambodia. And Prince Sihanouk, who was ousted as King and Head of Government, living in Beijing China, ironically supported the Pol Pot-led Rouge Khmer government.
However, the tragedy of Prince Sihanouk apparently continued to happen. In 1979, on the cusp of cruelty and injustice of the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot against its political opponents, including  Sihanouk's family members in Phnom Penh, another faction within the Khmer Rouge led by Heng Samrinh, could overthrow the regime of Pol Pot with the help of the Soviet Union and North Vietnam that also successfully overthrew the right-wing military regime of Nguyen van Thiu, which would automatically also expel the U.S. troops from the Vietnam land. The situation after the eviction of the Pol Pot regime could make China panic. Since then, the Chinese influence in Cambodia has shifted into the Soviet Union that supported the Heng Samrinh's movement.
In such a situation, Sihanouk as central figure and epicentrum of all Cambodian political powers, seemed even more real. In various peace negotiations in the framework of reconciliation of all political powers after the overthrow of regime of Pol Pot, Sihanouk was practically a key figure and determinant that is taken into account by all the political powers in Cambodia, and the international community.
Since the beginning, Sihanouk was practically the personification of the aspirations and mystical atmosphere of all the people of Cambodia beyond all the groups and various political factions in the country.
Some Reference Library:
1. Hendrajit et al, U.S. Hands: U.S. Covert Operations in Various Parts of the World, published by Global Future Institute, 2010.
2. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, My War with the CIA, Baltimore: Penguin Book, 1974.
3. Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia.
4. Julie Southwood and Petrick Flanagan, Indonesia, Law, Propaganda and Terror. London: Zed Press, 1983.

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