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Mideast corruption rankings: UAE least corrupt, Lebanon & Iran close to bottom

Arab states’ average corruption score dropped to an all-time low in 2023, as did Turkey’s, the corruption index shows. 
A Lebanese woman looks at graffiti on a smashed glass facade in the heart of the capital Beirut on October 25, 2019 as anti-corruption demonstrators cut off major roads across the country for a ninth day, pledging to carry on with their protests despite the president offering to meet their representatives. - The entire political class has been targeted in days of unprecedented street demos that have dominated city centres and closed banks, schools and universities across Lebanon. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

Corruption is pervasive across the Middle East and North Africa, according to a new index released this week, with Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Yemen and Somalia hitting the bottom of the list. Turkey's ranking dropped, while the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Qatar ranked as the least corrupt states in the broader region.

Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks 180 countries and territories through surveys and data collaboration with global institutions in a bid to measure levels of various forms of public sector corruption including bribery, nepotism and a government’s ability to combat wrongdoing. The index scores each country on a scale of 0-100, with descending scores indicating less corruption.

According to the the 2023 index released on Tuesday, Turkey — which is listed under the Eastern Europe and Central Asia category — plunged to its lowest-ever score of 34. The country’s score has been on the decline for the past 10 years consistently in the CPI. 

Transparency International cited Turkey's lack of checks and balances, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government's reluctance to enforce laws to combat corruption, and the erosion of judicial independence for the decline. The country’s political opposition charges that Erdogan’s self-styled executive presidential system, which Turkey transitioned to in 2018, has sped up the backsliding on all of these fronts. 

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