March 6, 2013

Ocalan invests in the post-Imrali era

Bülent Keneş

The aftershocks from the leaking of the minutes of a meeting held last week between three pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, jailed on İmralı Island off the İstanbul coast, are still showing no signs of abating. The debate on the content of the leaked minutes was the top agenda item of the speeches political party leaders delivered during their addresses to the parliamentary groups of their respective parties on Tuesday. Apparently, this debate will continue to shake the country for some time to come. So, let me announce my support to any effort that might lead to the elimination of terror and violence before moving to expound on my views about the leaked minutes.

I must note that it is possible to make diverging interpretations about the leaked minutes. In the first interpretation, a cursory look at these minutes reveals that terrorist leader Öcalan raises objections to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's position as the sole executor of the process. In response to the prime minister's proviso that the PKK must pull out of Turkey before the process can be kicked off, Öcalan puts his own conditions on the table. He explicitly and implicitly asserts that Prime Minister Erdoğan is not the sole owner or leader of the process, but that he, too, has provisos to make. The fact that he manages to be extremely peaceful and at the same time equally threatening during a brief conversation utilizing a bipolar style that typifies megalomania that cannot be explained with anything other than his insistence on asserting himself as the co-actor of the process. It follows that, according to the first interpretations, Öcalan directly targets the prime minister.

But I would like stress a second interpretation. For this interpretation, we should run an analysis of the possible reasons for why terrorist leader Öcalan attempted to leverage his highly narcissistic and megalomaniac rhetoric to hurl smears at some actors who are not directly connected to the matter at hand. This is the question we should try to answer: Why did terrorist chieftain Öcalan choose to slanderously launch an attack against Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, an Islamic scholar who was/is highly esteemed by Kurds because of his Kurdish origins and against Mr. Fethullah Gülen, a respected Islamic scholar, and the Hizmet movement inspired by his ideas (both inspired by Nursi), which have emerged as influential social actors in the Kurdish-dominated provinces.

If we are to read the leaked minutes in light of this question, we can easily realize that Öcalan is making serious preparations for the post-İmralı era in which he has apparently been made to place much trust. During his widely deranged talk, Öcalan carefully avoids voicing criticism about the security forces and the intelligence organization, which are natural targets of a violent terrorist organization. Apparently, Öcalan sees the security and intelligence forces as the elements or addressees of the past-armed struggle. Yet, with heightened hopes about the post-İmralı era, Öcalan no longer cares about the past struggle and war or the addressees of this war, but with sophisticated political calculations for the near future.

In this context, it is no coincidence that Öcalan, who is known to be a Marxist-Leninist atheist and who has led an anti-religious Stalinist organization for many years, has been wielding a religious discourse for some time and targets faith-based actors who have been influential on the Kurds who are known to be remarkably more pious than the average in Turkey.

As he is so sure that he will be completely free in the post-İmralı era, and moreover, he will be able to engage in politics directly or through proxies, Öcalan is trying to undermine the sympathy Kurds feels toward Bediüzzaman by saying that he was born in an Armenian village, thereby implying that he was Armenian. He nurtures the same ulterior motives by voicing the slander that Mr. Gülen, who is highly popular among Kurds who are not PKK supporters, and the Hizmet movement, inspired by his ideas, are connected to the CIA. In the post-İmralı era, Öcalan sees Bediüzzaman's ideas and the Hizmet movement, which embodies these ideas, as his primary rivals besides the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

By attacking these socio-political actors, Öcalan is actually hinting about how he will act in the new period. He positions himself at the same rank with the Kemalist/militarist heritage and against civilian, peaceful, domestic and indigenous thought. And this attitude fits Öcalan, who has always acted as the subcontractor of foreign actors, like a glove.

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 March 2013, Tuesday

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