Saturday, November 19, 2005

Iraq Ranks #4 in Middle East Freedom Index

Each year the British-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks countries according to an Index of Political Freedom.

When applied to 20 Middle Eastern countries the EIU ranked them as follows (with the most free getting the highest score):

Israel: 8.20
Lebanon: 6.55
Morocco: 5.20
Iraq: 5.05
Palestine: 5.05
Kuwait: 4.90
Tunisia: 4.60
Jordan: 4.45
Qatar: 4.45
Egypt: 4.30
Sudan: 4.30
Yemen: 4.30
Algeria: 4.15
Oman: 4.00
Bahrain: 3.85
Iran: 3.85
UAE: 3.70
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
Syria: 2.80
Libya: 2.05

First of all, note that the nation most criticized and excoriated and censured by the United Nations and by all other Middle Eastern countries is also, by far, the home of the freest people in the region--Israel.

Also not the irony of having Lebanon ranked second from the top...having just recently been liberated from the oppressive occupation of Syria...which is ranked second from the bottom!

Iraq, which only a few years ago would have ranked at or near the bottom has, like an unbeaten/untied college football team, moved up in the regional rankings with amazing speed! Could it be that the United States military intervention in that country has had anything to do with this?

I find it remarkable that "Palestine" receives the same score as "Iraq." Yes, Iraq is not yet either stable or secure....but neither is Palestine. Everyone who claims that Iraq is in the process of becoming a representative democracy would be given some measure of credibility by most people...even those who may disagree with that assessment.

But what about Palestine? Does anybody really believe that people are being governed by the people they have freely chosen? Does anyone truly believe that the Palestinian government is anything but corrupt, inept and powerless to even police its own streets? Does anyone truly believe that there is any semblance of multi-party participation in the government?

In Palestine the voters are threatened and cowed by local terrorists.

In Iraq, however, the voters have defied the threats and attempts at coercion by local terrorists.

I suspect that next year's list will bring about a well-deserved and growing gap between Iraq and Palestine. The one going up....the know.

By the way, here is the criteria used for making the list:

Election of head of government
Election of parliament
Fairness of electoral laws
Right to organise political parties
Power of elected representatives
Presence of an opposition
Minority participation
Level of corruption
Freedom of assembly
Independence of the judiciary
Press freedom
Religious freedom
Rule of law
Property rights