Thaksin has chosen to take this dangerous route not because he has nothing to lose, but because he has everything to lose. His latest move of dragging Cambodia and possibly other neighbouring countries into Thailand's domestic affairs and talking to foreign media about reforming the country's royal institution is seen by many as him throwing in his last card.
He is running out of time. The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders is scheduled to listen to defence testimony for the last time on November 17 for a case under which Thaksin faces the risk of seeing his Bt76 billion in assets confiscated. Ruling on this case could be issued before yearend.
This is probably why Thaksin, the red shirts, his Pheu Thai Party and all his allies are doing everything they can to get him back into power before he loses all his assets. The deadline for this mission is at the end of this year or early next year.
The only way his mission can be fulfilled is if the government is pushed into a corner and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has no other choice but to dissolve the Parliament and call for new elections, which Thaksin is confident his nominee party will win.
In order to achieve this goal in such a short time, Thaksin has come up with a perfect plot - forcing Thais to take sides and bringing the monarchy into politics - two strategies critics believe will result in bloodshed. There is already a confrontation looming. The yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy is holding a mass rally in Sanam Luang on Sunday to "protect the country's integrity and display their loyalty to His Majesty"; while the red shirts, led by Jatuporn Promphan, are staging a rally against the yellow shirts.
Still it appears as if the government has won the initial battle, with its popularity surging after the Thai ambassador to Cambodia was recalled and the memorandum of understanding on maritime overlapping zones was cancelled. This was done to retaliate against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's declaration that the court verdict against Thaksin had been politically motivated and that he would not honour the extradition treaty.
The government's first victory has clearly shaken Thaksin's followers, who are now accusing pollsters of being partial and are vowing to conduct their own survey to find out if their big boss is still in the game. This is probably why Thaksin showed some hesitation on accepting the job of economic adviser to Hun Sen, even though Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni had given his appointment the royal okay.
Political experts, however, believe that Thaksin has no choice but to accept the post because the damage has already been done. With mainstream Thai media against Thaksin, his side has to move ahead with its plan of bringing the country into conflict with its neighbours.
All this comes with moves to repair the damage done by Thaksin's answer to the most sensitive of the 55 questions posed to him by a Times Online journalist - the one about royal succession asked at a time when His Majesty was ailing.
Political observers believe that the report about His Majesty's health, which affected the stock market, and Thaksin's interview with Times Online were politically motivated, judging from the timing.
As for bilateral relations, if the government gets caught in the trap laid by Thaksin military clashes cannot be ruled out. However, it appears as if Abhisit realises the situation he is in and has announced that he will limit the scope of conflict and not let it go beyond the diplomatic level. A government spokesman has also downplayed the differences, saying the current conflict is just like a "tongue rubbing against the teeth".
A foreign analyst has predicted that if Abhisit does not exercise tolerance, conflicts with Cambodia will only escalate. Besides, things could get even worse at the public level if nationalism hits fanatical proportions.