Illustration: corruption
Illustration: corruptionThinkstock

German-based NGO Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on Tuesday. The index, which ranks corruption of countries on a 0 to 100 scale, with the lowest scores indicating the most corruption, based on perceptions of experts and analysts, found 8 Arab countries were among the 10 most corrupt nations.

Those surveyed in compiling the results include experts from bodies such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and others.

Israel scored a 61 on the index and ranked 36th least corrupt out of a total of  177 nations. The score is up from 60 in 2012, when Israel was 39th least corrupt.

Of the 10 most corrupt nations, all of which scored under 20 on the index, 8  (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan in alphabetical order)  have a Muslim majority. Five are Arab.

Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan were ranked the most corrupt states in the world, each scoring a mere 8 on the index. 

Afghanistan has been the subject of NATO and US intervention for several years, leading Finn Heinrich, Research Director for Transparency International, to call the nation "a sobering story," adding "we have not seen tangible improvements."

The list was topped by Denmark and New Zealand, although no country received a perfect score, with the two leaders rated 91. The US was ranked 19th on the list.

Transparency International stated "more than two-thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index score below 50," noting that widespread corruption is a large global problem.

Heinrich told AFP "corruption is very much linked to countries that fall apart, as you see in Libya, Syria, two of the countries that deteriorated the most. These are not countries where the government is functioning effectively, and people have to take all means in order to get by, to get services, to get food, to survive."

Regarding Syria, the effects of the war now in its third year is feared to have long lasting impact, not only in Syria but in surrounding nations where over 2.2 million refugees are searching for shelter amid a bleak future.

Aside from the correlation with instability, lack of transparency appears to be another key factor affecting corruption.

Emad Shahin, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera there is no transparency, "even in Arab countries that would be considered more advanced in terms of democratic transition."

Shahin added "despite any kind of superficial appearances, societies in these countries also suffer from a lack of participation at all levels, from local politics to holding the judiciary responsible for governmental oversight."