It is notoriously known that all countries of the MENA region have deficiencies with respect to freedom generally.  This situation is perhaps made worse in the GCC countries as elaborated on in the following proposed article although the 2011 Arab Spring in certain republics of the MENA has born fruits as shown in the performance of Tunisia as compared to its neighbouring states.  The Freedom in countries of the MENA and in the world that could nevertheless be considered to be in some democratic transition whilst being still marked by severe abuses of almost all fundamental political rights and civil liberties have been undeniably and accurately jotted down as such in this Report of the Freedom House.

Excerpts of this Report are reproduced here.

Key Findings

  • With populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
  • There were setbacks in political rights, civil liberties, or both, in a number of countries rated “Free” by the report, including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States.
  • Of the 195 countries assessed, 87 (45 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 49 (25 percent) Not Free.
  • The Middle East and North Africa region had the worst ratings in the world in 2016, followed closely by Eurasia.


Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy

By Arch Puddington and Tyler Roylance

In 2016, populist and nationalist political forces made astonishing gains in democratic states, while authoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, and grave atrocities went unanswered in war zones across two continents.

All of these developments point to a growing danger that the international order of the past quarter-century—rooted in the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—will give way to a world in which individual leaders and nations pursue their own narrow interests without meaningful constraints, and without regard for the shared benefits of global peace, freedom, and prosperity.

The troubling impression created by the year’s headline events is supported by the latest findings of Freedom in the World. A total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains. This marked the 11th consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.

While in past years the declines in freedom were generally concentrated among autocracies and dictatorships that simply went from bad to worse, in 2016 it was established democracies—countries rated Free in the report’s ranking system—that dominated the list of countries suffering setbacks. In fact, Free countries accounted for a larger share of the countries with declines than at any time in the past decade, and nearly one-quarter of the countries registering declines in 2016 were in Europe.

Worst of the Worst

Of the 49 countries designated as Not Free, the following 11 have the worst aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties.

Country/Territory Aggregate Score (out of 100)
Syria -1
Eritrea 3
North Korea 3
Uzbekistan 3
South Sudan 4
Turkmenistan 4
Somalia 5
Sudan 6
Equatorial Guinea 8
Central African Republic 10
Saudi Arabia 10


Middle East and North Africa:
The open wounds of civil conflict

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has long been one of the world’s two worst-performing regions. In 2016, it demonstrated the depths to which human freedom can fall after decades of authoritarian misrule, corruption, and erratic foreign interventions.

Libya was further plagued by political and security crises during the year. Despite a UN-brokered political agreement and the formation of a presidential council, the country’s governance remained crippled by the existence of multiple, competing state authorities, autonomous militias, and the presence of IS fighters opposed to all sides. The humanitarian situation and conditions for human rights have worsened as a result of insecurity and widespread impunity, and prospects for improvement are dim.

The war in Yemen continued to devastate what was already the poorest country in the region. The Houthi rebels occupying the capital and most of the north sought to form their own government given the failure of peace talks with the recognized government, which holds territory in the south. In the process they have made no guarantee that they will restore the country’s past political pluralism. Media independence has been all but eliminated as a result of the conflict, and civil liberties in general have effectively been suspended.

Syria remained the world’s least free country. Most of those living behind the front lines were governed by a dictatorship, IS extremists, or Kurdish militants, and many others were trapped in the middle of appalling violence. The humanitarian crisis reached a nadir toward the end of the year as regime forces bombarded and finally recaptured eastern Aleppo from rebel militias.