Israel remains the only free country in the Middle East, according to the annual report by Freedom House, published Wednesday.
The country scored 80 on a scale of 100. While this score is lower than most of the world’s democracies – European and North American nations all scored between 89 and 100 – the Jewish state scored far higher than its neighboring countries.
Turkey scored 38, Jordan 37 and Kuwait 36 among “partially free” countries according to the NGO’s designation, while “not free” countries scored far lower. Iraq scored 27, Iran 17, Saudi Arabia 10 and Syria scored -1.
The American-based NGO makes its determinations based on a complex mixture of political rights and civil liberties indicators, including the electoral process, pluralism in a given country’s political system and the functioning of government. Among the civil liberties examined are freedom of belief, the rule of law and several absolute principles defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Israeli media was characterized as “partly free” by the NGO. Its full report will be published at a later date.
The global trend depicted in the report is bleak. It marks the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom with “populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states.”
“There were setbacks in political rights, civil liberties, or both in a number of countries rated ‘free’ by the report,” Freedom House noted, “including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia and the United States.”