The Turkish original of this article was published as
Apo’yu kardeşinden beter ederler on 21st December 2015.
Abdullah Öcalan’s silence cannot be attributed to the government restriction on communicating with İmralı. With him are other prisoners whom he sees every day even if only for a few hours, and there are no restrictions on these others’ relations with the outside world. If Apo had something to say, you can be sure that he would have found a way of relaying his messages.
No, Apo is silent because he feels his leadership to be threatened. Any statement or declaration that is not to the liking of those in power on Kandil and over the HDP could be the end of Apo once and for all. It has been some time since they conveyed him this message quite clearly. What happened to his brother Osman Öcalan was actually a threat aimed at Apo himself. They heaped abuse and humiliation on Osman Öcalan as they kicked him out from PKK, and Apo, who knew himself to be the real target, had to keep silent in the face of the magnitude of the menace, watching on as his brother was liquidated.
If Apo’s leadership had been as indisputable as is commonly assumed, today neither Cemil Bayık nor Demirtaş would have any influence in the PKK, and Abdullah Öcalan would be scripting the entire PKK leadership as he wished. Instead, it is Apo himself who knows better than all others that he is not the movement’s “indisputable” leader; he is fully aware that the control of the organization he launched is no longer in his hands. The force that manipulated Apo in the past is now manipulating Cemil Bayık and Demirtaş. The PKK was founded and still operates in accordance with this principle, and Öcalan knows how to act in conformity . He is silently waiting for his turn to come yet again, knowing full well what can happen to him if he tries to object now; what happened to his brother is there for all to see.
I therefore don’t think that wishing for it to be “time for Öcalan to step in” is of any use. As long as the power that dominates both Kandil and the HDP does not want it, it is not going to be Apo’s turn yet again. Apo will not speak out even if the government wants him to. It is now time to strike at Turkey! It is time to try and turn Turkey into Syria! Just as they are preoccupied with making the PKK/HDP fight against Turkey, they are not likely to want Apo to step in and bring everything to a halt. They are given to using Kandil and the HDP in wartime, and to using Apo in times of “peace.”
The liberal prognosis that ‘there is no rift but only rapport between İmralı and Kandil” is therefore correct to a certain extent. There is indeed a triple rapport between Kandil, İmralı, and the HDP, but it is a rather deadly rapport, for if Apo were to try to create the tiniest rift, they would immediately crush him and terminate his leadership. Indeed, as soon as the solution process started, they started to apply pressure on İmralı through Kandil and the HDP, so much so that in the face of all the pressure and the various provocations, Apo eventually came to feel himself powerless to continue the process.
In short, Apo is silent not because the government wants him to be, but because he would have to face hell if he were to speak out. Oh, and meanwhile he does not have the slightest intention of helping to extricate Kandil and the HDP from the corner they have been squeezed into by the government’s counter-offensive. He is the one to benefit the most from weakening Kandil. This is the way this game has been played for many years!