The Turkish original of this article was published as
Apo süreci rayına sokabilir mi? on 24th August 2015.
If various reports leaked out to the media turn out to be correct, Abdullah Öcalan has rejected an HDP request for an audience on the grounds that “this is no place for making small talk.” It has become habitual for the PKK and the HDP, whenever they find themselves in a fix, to rely on Öcalan for a way out. It is only at such times that they seem to remember Öcalan. But this time the Solution Process has come to a point where it might be difficult to put things together yet again. It is now in a state of deep freeze. The PKK/HDP may have thought that as in the past, even though they had murdered tens of soldiers and policemen, the state would nevertheless be willing to return to the negotiating table and say “yes” to all their demands. But this has turned out to be a miscalculation, for the state seems to have concluded that “Enough is enough; things cannot go on like this.” From now on, it is going to be difficult for the state to tolerate such spoilt behavior from the PKK/HDP. The Solution Process, too, has lost a lot of its public support. Henceforth no government is going to find it easy, as if nothing has happened, to sit down at a table with the PKK/HDP and carry on with the Solution Process.
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For that to happen, there will have to be some very serious and convincing steps capable of persuading the public; for a start, they will have to include the PKK declaring that it is no longer going to wage an armed struggle against Turkey, complemented by pulling its armed units beyond the border. It is impossible for the organization to pick up from where it had left off simply by declaring another ceasefire. By now everyone knows that if there is a gun on stage, that gun is going to go off sooner or later. Unless the PKK withdraws its armed units beyond the border, it is going to be impossible for the public once more to get behind the Solution Process.
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At this point there arises a question about whether İmralı might come to the rescue yet again. Can Öcalan put a derailed process back on track despite the PKK and HDP? The fact that Öcalan hasn’t made a move so far, or that, according to some reports, he has even refused to receive HDP representatives, would seem to indicate that he does not possess any magic formula either. Still, Öcalan is a very persistent character, and he will try to seize the initiative by grasping at every opportunity.
The PKK/HDP has made the Southeast virtually unliveable.It has been blowing up every single bridge still linking it to Turkey. In the process, it has also dealt the heaviest blow to Öcalan. It has put Öcalan’s position in doubt, in the shade. To judge by some of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s recent statements, the state estimates Öcalan to have lost most of his authority and influence over his organization. This could therefore mean a different road map in the future.
Taking all these developments into account, you could say that in a certain sense, the PKK and HDP have got what they wanted. By weakening Öcalan, they have enabled a “third party” to gain a voice in the Solution Process.
It was also meaningful for Selahattin Demirtaş, who met and talked with top PKK leaders in Brussels, to have offered Apo a “Mandela” bribe upon his return. “Accept the tutelage of Brussels, leave everything to us, and just be a Mandela,” they are saying. It is impossible to know if Apo might digest this, but in any case, it is not going to be easy for any plan to succeed if it keeps leaving the Republic of Turkey out of the picture.