According to Freedom House’s annual study of political rights and civil liberties, the Middle East and North Africa region – the world’s two worst-performing regions for a long time – had the worst ratings in the world again in 2016.
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.
Syria remained the world’s least free country. A total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016. Turkey scored 38 out of 100, thus considered partly free, but it suffered the world’s largest setback in terms of conditions for political rights and civil liberties and has witnessed the largest 10-year score decline in the world after the Central African Republic. Iran scored 17 and Iraq 27 (both not free) on a scale in which 100 is the highest reached by countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Of the 195 countries assessed, 87 (45 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 49 (25 percent) Not Free.
In 2006, Financial Times reported the organisation received funding from the US State Department “for clandestine activities inside Iran”, and in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky extensively criticise the organisation. “Freedom House,” the authors write, “dates back to the early 1940s, has had interlocks with AIM, the World Anticommunist League, Resistance International, and U.S. government bodies such as Radio Free Europe and the CIA, and has long served as a virtual propaganda arm of the government and international right wing.”
Freedom House defines its annual study Freedom in the World as its flagship claiming it receives no governmental funding. The organisation itself, however, was funded by grants from the US government between 2006-2015 that covered 66–85% of its total funding. Freedom House claim they “advocate for U.S. leadership and collaboration with like-minded governments to vigorously oppose dictators and oppression”.