March 31, 2016
When Winston Churchill published The World Crisis, his contemporary Arthur Balfour called the book “Winston’s brilliant autobiography, disguised as a history of the universe.”
The same can be said of Abdullah Ocalan’s latest book, Imrali Notlari.
This account of “peace talks” on the island of Imrali, first published in early 2015, got censored when Turks learned it was about to go public.
The redacted second edition appeared in November 2015, and its pdf version has been circulating on the Internet ever since—for free.
It is autobiographical all right, but there is no chronology.
Mr. Ocalan comes across as paranoid and angry, despite herculean effort, unable to see that he is a helpless cork in a Turkish sea—powerless to alter his marooned fate, or sway the tides to make it ashore.
That may be a good thing, given the odds.
Let’s not forget: 420 people were tortured to death in Turkish prisons, says a Human Rights Foundation of Turkey report that investigated glaring abuses of the last military coup in Turkey.
A Turkish journalist, Yasemin Congar, sent Mr. Ocalan her greetings, wondering, if he “learned” all his mythology in prison?
Mr. Ocalan caustically shot back: “If you don’t know mythology, you don’t know philosophy, religion and politics.”
He also cloaked this mythology in political garb: “If there is going to be socialism, don’t look for it in the materialism of the West. Look at the belly of Islam.”
Perhaps the West is too strong to give in to socialism. Islam is riper for Bolsheviks of the dogmatic left.
But Islam (the type practiced by the likes of Erdogan) and socialism (the type envisioned by the likes of Ocalan) embrace the scourge of force, which dooms the prospect of peace, the ostensible goal of talks on the forsaken island.
Although there are two sides to the peace talks in Imrali prison, the table showcases three parties.
Mr. Ocalan dominates them from the get-go and speaks of his love for representative government, as if it were a new Apple product, iDemocracy!
But how does iDemocracy work in the Kurdish context?
When Kurdish parliamentarians tell Mr. Ocalan, Kandil imposed its list of candidates on the Kurdish electorate, he goes ballistic, but, at the same time, imposes his own list, primarily Turks, on the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)!
Facing him in prison are Turkish and Kurdish parliamentarians, the messengers of Turkish government and diaspora Kurds, who fawningly defer to him as, “My President,” and are in awe of him the way young Africans are enthralled by President Obama.
Close to them sits a nameless Turkish intelligence officer, or trivial court jester, praising Mr. Ocalan for his foresight and censuring the Kurdish parliamentarians for “Solution Process” failings.
The book lists transcripts of 23 conversations, punctuated by occasional tea breaks.
Students of history will have to wait for the uncensored accounts.
The “approved” version is stuffed with gems for those who see history through psychology, and features levity in case you thought political tomes and entertainment don’t mesh well.
Turkey is not at peace with itself, and Mr. Ocalan has contributed to its instability, costing the government $1.2 trillion, he says.
The deputy prime minister of Turkey, Yalcin Akdogan, marks the tab at $450 billion.
Whatever the price, Mr. Ocalan says it would all end if Turkey enacts a law accepting the Kurds.
If that happens, his fighters will disarm or leave Turkey, he promises.
Mr. Erdogan has his own agenda, of course.
He is willing to humor Mr. Ocalan if he will abandon the Kurdish experiment in self-rule in Rojava.
Although the talks are about peace in Turkey, the fate of the Kurds below the border overshadows the give and take.
Here is a stinking part:
Mr. Ocalan thinks Mr. Erdogan should have helped the Kurds of Kobane defend themselves, the way Kurds helped the Turks to move the tomb of Shah Suleyman—grandfather of the founder of Ottoman Empire—to Esme, in Kurdish Syria, for safety reasons.
There was no need for Americans to intervene, which put the Turks in bad light and the “cowboys” got the limelight, he says with an air of bewilderment!
“Yes,” says Sirri Sureyya Onder, his alter ego, “the angel of death is not about saving lives.”
Pervin Buldan, his favorite Kurdish politician, chimes in as claques shriek, “Biji [long live] Obama!”
No one dares mention that without American airpower, the black flag of Islam would dictate the Kobane skyline—to the delight of Erdogan!
As to the levity, Mr. Ocalan thinks marriage is a declaration of surrender to the opposite sex! “Ataturk stood it for only one year,” he jests. “I could take it for ten.”
Sirri Sureyya Onder, a divorcee, interjects, “When Dostoyevsky married,” Tsar Peter said, “Oh, great, I have one less enemy.”
Peter the Great died before Dostoyevsky was born.
In the history of universe by Abdullah Ocalan, don’t look for facts—but make-believe stories.
And if you are a patriotic Kurd, count your blessings: Ocalan is not Kurdistan. The best he can muster is a province in Turkey. Kurds don’t need Turks to be free. Kurdistan is coming in spite of the naysayers!
This op-ed originally appeared in Rudaw daily.