War with Vietnam

As the conflict in Cambodia raged, Sihanouk agreed, under pressure from China, to head a military and political front opposed to the Phnom Penh government. The Sihanouk led resistance coalition brought together - on paper, at least - Funcinpec (the French acronym for the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia), which comprised a royalist group loyal to Sihanouk) the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, a noncommunist grouping formed by former prime misister Son Sam; and the Khmer Rouge, officially known as the Party of Democratic Kampuchea and by far the most powerful of the three. The heinous crimes of the Khmer Rouge were swept aside to ensure a com promise that suited the great powers.
 
During the mid-1980s the British government dispatched the Spec ral Air Service (SAS) to a Malaysian jungle camp to train guerrilla fighters In land mine-laying techniques, Although officially assisting the smaller tactions, it is certain the Khmer Rouge benefited from this experience. It then used these new-found skills to Intimidate and terrorise the Cambodian people. The USA gave more than US$15 million a year in aid to the noncommunist factions of the Khmer Rouge-dominated coalition.
 
For much of the 1980s Cambodia remained closed to the Western world, save for the presence of some humanitarian aid groups. Government policy was effectively under the control of the Vietnamese, so Cambodia found itself very much in the Eastern-bloc camp. The economy was in tatters for much of this period, as Cambodia, like Vietnam, suffered from the effects of a US-sponsored embargo.
 
In 1984 the Vietnamese overran all the major rebel camps inside Cambodia, forcing the Khmer Rouge and its allies to retreat into Thailand. From this time the Khmer Rouge and its allies engaged in guerrilla warfare aimed at demoralising their opponents. Tactics used by the Khmer Rouge included shelling government-controlled garrison towns, planting thousands of mines in rural areas, attacking road transport, blowing up bridges, kidnapping village chiefs and targeting civilians. The Khmer Rouge also forced thousands of men, women and children living in the refugee camps it controlled to work as porters, ferrying ammunition and other supplies into Cambodia across heavily mined sections of the border. The Vietnamese for their part laid the world’s longest minefield, known as K-5 and stretching from the Gulf of Thailand to the Lao border, in an attempt to seal out the guerrillas. They also sent Cambodians into the forests to cut down trees on remote sections of road to prevent ambushes. Thousands died of disease and from injuries sustained from land mines. The Khmer Rouge was no longer in power, but for many the 1980s was almost as tough as the 1970s, one long struggle to survive.
 
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20/07/2017

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