Freedom House: “Middle East Gains Provoke Intensified Repression”
Freedom House released on Wednesday a report titled “Freedom in the World 2013: Middle East Gains Provoke Intensified Repression.” Freedom House found “impressive gains” in the past year despite being a region “notable for sectarian polarization, civil strife, and repressive autocracies.” The countries whose level of political rights and civil liberties increased were: Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The latter two moved from “Not Free” to “Partly Free,” while Tunisia remained at “Partly Free” but showed dramatic improvements from the previous year. Countries that had declines in political rights and civil liberties were Syria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Freedom House noted that Syria has seen the worst repercussions from the Arab Spring so far.
The number of countries whose political rights and civil liberties score declined far outweigh those who improved. Freedom House explained this result saying the gains for some Middle East countries “triggered a reaction, sometimes violent, by authoritarian leaders elsewhere in the Middle East, with resulting setbacks for freedom.”
The report also notes the ambiguous results in some countries. There were major gains for Libya and Tunisia, but while direct military rule came to an end in Egypt, the elected parliament was dissolved, President Morsi pushed through a controversial constitution, and the presidential election was “flawed.”