25 November, London – Security and stability across the Middle East and North Africa continues to be undermined by the risk of corruption in defence institutions, according to new research by Transparency International – Defence & Security.
11 of the 12 Middle East and North Africa states assessed in the 2020 Government Defence Integrity Index released today received E or F grades, indicating either a “very high” or “critical” risk of defence corruption. Only Tunisia performed better, scoring a D.
These findings come against a backdrop of insecurity and fragility in the region. Mass protests – driven by grievances including corruption and financial mismanagement by government – continue in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. Meanwhile protracted armed conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya show no sign of ending.
Steve Francis OBE, Director of Transparency International – Defence & Security, said:
The Middle East and North Africa remains one of the most conflict-riven regions in the world and this instability has a major impact on international security. While some states have made some improvements in their anti-corruption safeguards, the overall picture is one of stagnation and in some cases regression. Given the empirical link between corruption and insecurity, these results make worrying reading.
Military institutions across the region continue to conduct much of their business under a shroud of secrecy and away from even the most basic public scrutiny or legislative oversight. This lack of accountability fuels mistrust in security services and governments, which in turn feeds instability.
With the regional picture looking bleak, tools like our Government Defence Integrity Index are more important than ever. By highlighting areas where safeguards against corruption are weak or non-existent, campaigners on the ground and reform minded military leaders and politicians can use these results to push for real change. Taking action to improve transparency and close loopholes which allow corruption to thrive would improve public trust and bolster national security.
Defence sectors across the region continue to suffer from excessive secrecy, and a lack of oversight and transparency, the research found. Meanwhile, defence spending in the region continues to surge to record levels.
The countries with defence sectors at a ‘critical’ risk of corruption are Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as there is virtually no accountability or transparency of defence and security institutions. Many of these countries are either major arms importers or benefit from significant international military aid.
In Lebanon, a lack of clear independent auditing mechanisms and gaps between anti-corruption laws adopted in the last two years and their implementation contributed to the country’s “very high” risk status, despite the Lebanese Armed Forces demonstrating high levels of integrity and a willingness to remain neutral and avoid using excessive against protesters.
Tunisia was the only country in the region to rank higher, with new whistleblower protections, improved oversight and public commitments to promoting integrity in the armed forces contributing to its score. But the continued use of counter-terrorism justifications combined with an ingrained culture of secrecy within the defence sector prevented Tunisia from scoring higher.
|Lebanon||Very high risk|
Notes to editors:
The full, country-specific Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) results for the Middle East and North Africa will be available here
The GDI assesses the existence, effectiveness and enforcement of institutional and informal controls to manage the risk of corruption in defence and security institutions.
Our team of experts draws together evidence from a wide variety of sources and interviewees across 77 indicators to provide a detailed assessment of the integrity of national defence institutions, and awards a score for each country from A to F.
The GDI was previously known as the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI). The Index underwent a major update for the 2020 version, including changes to the methodology and scoring underpinning the project. This means overall country scores from this 2020 version cannot be accurately compared with country scores from previous iterations of the Index.
Subsequent GDI results will be released in 2020, covering Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, G-20 countries, the Asia Pacific region, East and Southern Africa, and NATO+.
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Ahead of presidential elections in Egypt, our new report analyses the role and growing economic power of the military.
This report is currently unavailable to download. It will be re-uploaded as soon as possible.
Western states contributing to military control in Egypt
Opaque and wealth driven military failing to provide security
23rd March 2017 – Western states and arms companies have contributed to the Egyptian military’s consolidation of political power by providing aid and security assistance with few strings attached, according to a new report “The Officers’ Republic” by Transparency International Defence & Security.
This report comes as Egyptians prepare to take to the polls in a widely discredited election, in which the military General, President el-Sisi, is expected to secure another four years of power. Meanwhile the intensity of state violence and human rights abuses continues to soar.
Whilst the Egyptian military has, since the protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak in 2011, cemented its political power and expanded its economic ambitions, it has remained a largely opaque and unaccountable institution. Its pursuit of economic and political interests have meanwhile left it struggling to confront the security challenges faced by the country, with a detrimental effect on both local and regional stability.
Details of Egypt’s defence budget, an estimated $4.4billion per year, are treated as a state secret. Egypt’s institutions provide little scrutiny of the military’s finances. Meanwhile the US provides approximately $1.3 billion a year to the government in foreign military assistance.
At the same time western defence companies – with approval from their governments – have continued to do business as usual with a military force riddled with corruption risk and lacking in any form of meaningful transparency. Egypt was the third largest arms importer in the world over the last five years. In March 2015 the US reinstated delivery of major weapons systems to Egypt, having halted them after the 2013 coup, despite little evidence of reform progress.
James Lynch, Deputy Director Transparency International Defence & Security, said:
“The Egyptian people have a military that does everything but keep the country secure. Its concern with building its economic and political power has hugely frustrated its efforts to deal with the security challenges it faces in the Sinai and other places. This is a military that may very well be the architect of its own security crisis.”
“Egypt’s armed forces have under President el-Sisi expanded their privileged position in the country’s economy, have grabbed full control over the political system and yet they are not under any meaningful scrutiny. Western states, who could do much to influence this situation, are meanwhile failing to demand serious reform and instead carrying on with business as usual, while mistakenly still considering Egypt a trusted partner for security in stability in the region.”
“As Egyptians take to the polls the outcome is highly unlikely to bring about any result other than the continued dominance of the military. The international community must understand that not only is it doing a major disservice to the people of Egypt by providing support to the armed forces with few strings attached, it is also contributing to the security crisis the country and region is facing.”
Transparency International Defence & Security recommends that the international community:
- Promote better domestic oversight of the armed forces by asking harder questions on the military’s economic activity and accountability mechanisms
- Make financial and security assistance dependent on achieving at least basic levels of transparency and accountability
- Amplify domestic voices championing accountability and a better governed defence sector
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