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Corruption Continues to Challenge Middle East

A watchdog group says corruption remains a serious challenge for much of the Middle East.

In its annual corruption report released Tuesday, Berlin-based Transparency International says all but four of the countries surveyed in the region scored less than five out of 10, indicating they face serious levels of corruption.

Iraq (175 out of 178) still remains among the most corrupt countries in the world, more than seven years after the U.S. invasion that rid the country of its dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Iran made slight gains in the rankings, jumping from 168 last year to 146 this year. However, it still remains among the most corrupt Middle Eastern nations, tying with Yemen and Libya.

The countries seen as the least corrupt in the Middle East are Qatar (19), the United Arab Emirates (28), Israel (30) and Oman (41).

Transparency International has said insecurity, a lack of transparency, and oil wealth have helped fuel corruption in parts of the region.

The group ranks countries on a scale of one to 10, with one being the most corrupt. On that scale, Iraq was the most corrupt in the region with a score of 1.5, while Qatar was the least corrupt with a score of 7.7.

The report says Qatar and Kuwait showed significant improvements from 2009 to 2010.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.