A leading research and advisory firm, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently ranked 20 middle-eastern countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberty to measure the freedom of each country.
While most of the rankings fall as expected - Israel ranked as the most free, Libya and Syria as the least - a few items on the ranking might seem surprising to casual observers. The five most free countries on the list include three of the most volatile countries in the world: Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. These high rankings reflect recent developments such as Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon and elections in Palestine and Iraq.
At the bottom of the rankings, Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, tied with Syria as the second least free country. Saudi Arabia held municipal elections in February of 2005 - its first elections ever - but the country remains an absolute monarchy. If nothing else, this survey should put to rest the lie that US intervention in the Middle East is about promoting democracy
Tags: Middle East, freedom, Saudi Arabia