Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had recently worked to position himself as a mediator between Israel and the Arab world, with some success. Yet, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a well-publicized outburst condeming Israel for its actions in Gaza undermined his credibility. A Time magazine article online, “Behind the Turkish Prime Minster’s Outburst at Davos”, by Pelin Turgut, contains a quote that concisely states the Prime Minister’s misstep. ” ‘The most important quality of a mediator is to be able to maintain an equal distance to all parties involved,’ says Cuneyt Ulsever, a columnist for Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.”
Ulsever sums up one of the most basic traits a mediator must have: neutrality between parties. In this instance, the Prime Minister may have had other priorities that outweighed his desire to be seen as an honest broker, or he may simply have spoken unwisely. Either way, he has lost some credibility, and only time will tell if he can regain it.