Authoritarianism, Dictators and Tyrants

By pjain      Published July 19, 2021, 12:19 a.m. in blog Geo-Politics   

Liberalism, Democracy and Authoritarianism - Lessons and BPR

r Books

Authoritarianism Coup Prevention and Persistence 101

Focused Loyalty to Cult of ONE PERSON - transition from ONE GROUP

  • Saddam Husein in Iraq
  • Iran's Khomeni
  • North Korea's Kim Il Sung
  • Libya's Ghaddafi
  • Cuba's Fidel Castro (Raul was also there but Fidel was THE ONE)

Indicators of coup risk and Regime Change

Mass protests and Coup attempts are the leading causes of dictatorship death.

Far less Mass Protests

These countries experienced 72 percent fewer mass protests

Few Attempted coups or fissures among the governing elite

Regimes born by violent Revolution most durable

China, pre-1990 Russia, Cuba and North Korea, Vietnam, Algeria are regimes whose average lifespan is several times that of other systems.

Ironically, their odds of surviving beyond 30 years is nearly quadruple often against insurmountable odds.

Cuba has survived 60+ years of a coastal embargo and US sanctions, and Iran survived since Jimmy Carter era in spite of rabid US and Israeli intervention and sanctions.

Something is VERY different as Communist governments collapsed worldwide in 1989 esp that of Russia,.

Of those that survived, all were revolutionary states. Most that fell were not - in fact surviving the end of Communism is a pretty big deal statistically speaking since 1900, as governments rose and fell all around them!

  1. Death of Old System From the Root. Bottom-up organizations like the clergy or the merchant class, which could otherwise challenge the government’s hold on society, are mostly purged or sidelined, and the military and the administrative bureaucracy.

  2. Rivals already Brutally Wiped out! The violent revolution leaves it with no real rivals from within or below. Even within its factions suffer a Darwinian fit-or-survive. Revolutionary orders are also remarkably cohesive. There may be disagreements and power struggles. But they are among revolutionaries who are bought into the system as-is and, from dogcatcher to fleet commander, work to maintain it.

  3. True Believers at Every level of the military and the security services. This all but removes risks of a coup or other breakdown — and makes leaders far bolder in using those forces to put down dissenters.

  4. Unity in face of External War Threats. Ever since European monarchies battled revolutionary France, most revolutions have been followed by war, often against neighboring countries. Faced with a foreign threat, even a divided society will often unify in defense of the cause. And it will reconstitute itself, from the ashes of revolutionary turmoil, around a wartime solidarity and discipline that can shape the new society for generations.

  5. Iran’s System Keeps Its Grip, Despite the Chaos (or Because of It) - The New York Times

Critical mass, Economies and Size - Too Big to Mess with!

Like the saying goes - you don't mess with Texas, it goes far far more for thes states.

Of these regimes/states - consider their populations are far far greater than most European states!

Country | Pop. M | -----------|---------- |------------ China | 1412 Pakistan | 225 Russia | 146 Vietnam | 98 Iran | 85 Turkey | 84 Algeria | 45 Syria | 18 N Korea | 26 Cuba | 11

In contrast democratic states like India 1380, US 332m, Germany 83m, France 67m, Australia 26m, Canada 38m

Ironically, the "smaller" authoritarian states like Syria, N. Korea and Cuba - help make this point because they allied with much larger powers like China and Russia to level the playing field.

5000 years of National History and Pride

Consider China and Iran - both have 5000+ years as ancient civilizations that ruled the world at multiple points in their past.

This national pride will manifest - regardless of who controls them!

Economic Competence not important - Kill Millions - Strengthens Power!

The revolution may or may not be competent at administering every last function of state and society.

In fact N. Korea's and Mao killed millions but that only increased the power of fear.

Factional and Military Effectiveness and Authoritarianism 101

Paradox: Why military success is not uniform?

If the basic activities that produce success on the modern battlefield are more or less known, then why don’t all states do those things?

Tradeoff: Coup Risks vs Military Effectiveness

A regime ruling a given state may eschew the benefits of conventional military effectiveness because of the coup risk that such expertise poses.

Saddam’s Iraq, Diem’s and Thieu’s South Vietnam, and Khomeini’s Iran all evinced this tendency being slow to grant military power to their leaders fearing disloyalty.

1. Separation of Power and Politics - Conventional and Unimaginative Power Tactics

Robustly institutionalized Regimes (existing military or police independent of politics) are likely to be far more harmonious or at least nonconflictual relationships between political leaders and military officers are much less likely to be concerned about coups. Instead there will be wall separating political and police-force-power.

External Military Threats, Expansion and Effectiveness

Conventional well institutionalized cultures have a builtin security that generally in the name of "professionalism" also adopt conventional military organizational practices.

Where formally institutionalized regimes face threatening external adversaries or have foreign policy goals that require territorial revision, they are particularly likely to gravitate toward conventional policies, even when their national resources may be limited.

In other words - Unimaginative Military tactics - Moral limitations - "we don't butcher civilians" or practice Racism - Money is limited - "we don't steal from public" or dispossess the Jews - When resource poor - rather not engage or withdraw rather than heroic desperate dirty tactics

2. Factional Desperation - Darwinian Survival and Fitness

Desperation = Need and Insecurity are the Mothers of Police Power

Military organizations or "Police Power" Teams and practices do not emerge out of the ether - they spring from the threat environments that often fragmented regimes face. The survivors are by Darwinian evolution the ones with tighter control and survival of the fittest!

Consider Disorganized, Factional or Weakly institutionalized regimes. Often with frequent and conflict-heavy civil-military histories are much more likely to prioritize protection against coup threats, leading to the adoption of military organizational practices poorly suited to the demands of conventional warfighting or guerilla operations.

Arms and Money Makes the Dictator Go!

MAD Nuclear Weapons and Missiles Keep Regimes - Israel, N.Korea, China

Mutually Assured Destruction was the Cold War clash between USA and USSR that ironically kept WW III from happening as the consequences would have been severe.

Israel

N.Korea

China

Effective Talent is Vital

Authoritarianism FORCES Strong Leadership at Lower/Middle Management!

Even if propaganda keeps supreme leader in power, the coterie of able leaders around him keeps him in power!

RealMilitarik Tactics and Strategy

But just because they can parade in good formations, does not transfer the military tactics and strategies.

Training is not created equal, and rigorous, realistic training at both the small- and large-unit levels is only one of several organizational practices vital to military effectiveness.

Only real world experience can convey the consistent tactical proficiency and competence in complex operations likely.

Merit based Promotion is vital

Training must be paired with merit-based promotion systems, appropriate command arrangements, and systems that encourage necessary information sharing.

Talent Management in Police Power Teams

Battlefield effectiveness requires recruiting, training and operating tactically proficient TEAMS or fighting units capable of complex modern operations.

Along the way, it depends on the practices it adopts with respect to promotion patterns, training regimens.

Operational, Command Discipline Enforcement

Above all command arrangements, information management, discipline and obeying commands is required.

The reality is hard headed and ruthless Authoritarianism is more likely to generate these band than idealistic "do gooders" with everyone following their "heart".

So authoritarianism is more conducive to managing teams than liberalism.

Weakness - Authoritarianism shut out Vital Information and Intel

Weakness - Authoritarian Mono-cultures drive out Smart but disagreeing talent

Faux-Proxy Authoritarianism

Big brother Support makes Regime weaker

Colonial powers Extraction Keep Regimes weak

  • Vietnam was used by the French colonial to enrich themself, but when

Building up Conventional Arms - Men in Uniform not Effective Forces

Foreign assistance as seen in US Imperialism, "advisorship" and arms supply manifest in efforts to rapidly build foreign militaries to an "GOOD ENOUGH".

There is a COST to supply and LACK OF CONTROL on military assets that are actually trnnsferred to the ally!

So the Q = QUANTITY is the metric of the number of men in uniform who have completed some modicum of basic training and supplied as functioning armed regiments with supplies.

Sucking up to Big Brother

Often the entire regime top hierarchy role is chosen to act as good lap dogs and be proxies for e.g. the USA. So who gets to rise to the top - those sycophants who smile and are friendly to the Big Brother eg US.

Dependence on the US Teat is a major Weakness

Paradoxically the US after all doesn't want their "allied" army to grow to a too large size. or its leadership independent of its strategies.

US military-industrial does NOT want success

After all often the US military-industrial paradoxically does NOT want success. It stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years, in Iraq in-and-out from 1980, then in 1991 Desert Storm, then from 2003-2018+. These arenas were trillion dollar hog-feeding troughs for the entire machinery.

Of course they fed using the post-non-gold-backed USD as a reserve currency but who cares!

Building of Institutions worked in Past - not in Iraq or Afghanistan

At the ground level, unlike the post-occupation building of institutions

Limits of Super Power Imperialism

US and Zionism distorts its "National Security Interests"

Ironically, US policy is driven largely by Zionist elements and evangilicals so Israeli perceived national interests became US strategic interests. The lives of millions in Syria meant nothing in contrast to the TRILLIONS of dollars at stake to the Zionist controlled MNCs and Globalists.

Limits of Chinese Imperialism - Debt Bombs, Sabre Rattling

USSR failed in Afghanistan

Case Studies of Authoritarian Power Consolidation and Persistence

The contrast in the performance of relatively weak, authoritarian regimes against a materially superior, democratic adversary is quite striking

China CCP Persistence

Modern China is a severely authoritarian regime, but one with a well-developed single party that seems to have all but eliminated any serious danger of military-backed coups.

Its coup prevention is SO EFFECTIVE that it can focus all its energy strengthening its economy and military to gain global superpower status.

North Korea Kim Dynasty

This was a “fair” fight the states were similar or evenly matched along the major dimensions often said to matter for military effectiveness. These included wealth, population, democracy, external threats, culture, and the degree of political intervention in the military

Russia and Putin beyond KGB persistence

Taliban WINS over 20 years in Afghanistan

Under the vast money power of the US the Afghanistan "government" had a tendency being slow to grant military power to their leaders fearing disloyalty. This contrasted with the revolutionary zeal and close wolf-brothers loyalty of the Taliban.

Case Studies of Authoritarian States at War

North Vietnam vs US Backed - South Vietnam (1963–1975)

The war practices employed by the North Vietnamese enabled them to impose significant costs on the United States in terms of time, resources, and casualties. Ultimately, the United States had to settle for a draw at best.

South Vietnam received enormous infusions of U.S. weapons and military assistance prior to or during its wars. But arguably, U.S. assistance arguably counterproductive, shielding the regime from the very threats that would have been most likely to prompt much-needed adaptation. It allowed the incompetent generals to persist despite repeatedly failing. Also S. Vietnam was an intelligence sieve with leaks all over for Hanoi.

Diem’s and Thieu’s South Vietnam in a sense defeated themselves as they evinced this tendency being slow to grant military power to their leaders fearing disloyalty. This contrasted with the revolutionary zeal and close wolf-brothers loyalty of North Vietnam.

What happened In Iran vs Iraq (1980–1988)

After deposing the Shah of Iran, its nascent regime had benefits of MASSIVE US modern arms - so Iran in the early 1980s should have easily won over then clan-and-tribal Saddam.

Saddam’s Iraq as well as Khomeini’s Iran all evinced a tendency being slow to grant military power to their leaders fearing disloyalty.

Case of Pakistan vs Afghanistan - American Idiots choosing to be Manipulated!

Since 1970 the US tilt to Pakistan gained Kissinger's "brilliant" strategy of the objective of getting US closer to the China reconciliation, and Regan era 1980-2020 globalization that allowed elites in the West to gain immense wealth.

However did it make Pakistan stronger? No - while the ISI rules and was empowered in Afghan, US was laughed at and made to look as an idiot.

Billions were siphoned off all through the fight against the USSR vs Taliban (sponsored by USA), then in the Afghanistan post 2001 when Pakistan worked against US interests but got paid billions. Even "giving up" Osama Bin Laden probably earned tens of millions in the right General's pockets.

Saddam Won Some, Lost Some Over time

Saddam Hussein’s regime received US indirect support and the provision of tactical intelligence.

Saddam’s Iraq as well as Khomeini’s Iran all evinced a tendency being slow to grant military power to their leaders fearing disloyalty.

When the Iraqis fought the United States in 1991 and again in 2003, Saddam had reverted to coup prevention practices as compared to slash and burn against Iran.

The US-led coalitions managed to achieve such rapid, low-cost conventional military victories, despite the large size of the Iraqi army and, in 1991 at least, the excellent quality of many of its weapons.

Iran vs the West - Iran Regime Stays in Power

Birth in Lava

The 1979 uprising brought all these traits in spades. Its leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, smashed the old order in its entirety, installing revolutionary institutions that were modestly capable but ideologically fervent.

  1. Death of Old System From the Root. Bottom-up organizations like the clergy or the merchant class, which could otherwise challenge the government’s hold on society, are mostly purged or sidelined, and the military and the administrative bureaucracy.

  2. Rivals already Brutally Wiped out! The violent revolution leaves it with no real rivals from within or below. Even within its factions suffer a Darwinian fit-or-survive. Revolutionary orders are also remarkably cohesive. There may be disagreements and power struggles. But they are among revolutionaries who are bought into the system as-is and, from dogcatcher to fleet commander, work to maintain it.

  3. True Believers at Every level of the military and the security services. This all but removes risks of a coup or other breakdown — and makes leaders far bolder in using those forces to put down dissenters.

Military Threats, External Strife used to Cement Power since first days

USA's was very angry as its lucrative deals with the corrupt Shah ended and UK coaxed US in rabid attempt to make an example to prevent future oil nationalization.

Unity in face of External War Threats. Ever since European monarchies battled revolutionary France, most revolutions have been followed by war, often against neighboring countries. Faced with a foreign threat, even a divided society will often unify in defense of the cause. And it will reconstitute itself, from the ashes of revolutionary turmoil, around a wartime solidarity and discipline that can shape the new society for generations.

Iran right at birth faced near-immediate war with neighboring Iraq, backed by countries that feared the revolution’s spread. Revolutionary leaders, the military and the security services unified — and exploited the moment to purge rivals and dissenters across society.

Iran’s System Keeps Its Grip using Chaos - TINA

Iran seems a perfect recipe for instability yet it survives decade after decade - A disillusioned, sometimes furious public - An economy in shambles - Rife with corruption and mismanagement as privileged fat cat elites rule as unelected clerics/military - Iran is Quagmired abroad and Internationally loathed - Its elections have its candidates hand picked by a "Guardian council" controlled by theocracy, and much of the country boycotts - Israel can bomb its nuclear facilities, use robotic machine guns to shoot its top personnel - US sanctions have Iran hand to mouth for medicines, Covid vaccines and some forms of food

Iranian Regime's longevity has defied the assumptions of experts, foreign adversaries, its own citizens and often stabler-seeming governments falter or fall at a rising rate worldwide.

Internal tensions are REAL!

Iran's complex and unusual political system combines elements of a modern Islamic theocracy with democracy. A network of unelected institutions controlled by the highly powerful conservative Supreme Leader is countered by a president and parliament elected by the people.

At the top of Iran's power structure is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian Revolution, upon Khomeini's death in 1989. Khomeini and Khamenei are the only two men to have held the office since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

But under the supreme leader there are many factions and power centers.

Strife Made System Stronger and Adaptable!

1989+ The revolution was expected to succumb to infighting when Khomeini died in 1989. Disagreements would spill into the open. Military services, severed from their leader, would grow independent. Citizens would demand fuller democracy. But the movement retained deep roots across institutions and social organizations, keeping them united.

1990s bitter power rivalry

2009 Green Movement protests

Since 2000, Iranian politics has been characterized by continued wrangling between these elected and unelected institutions as a reformist president - and, at times, parliament - struggled against the conservative establishment. But with hardliners' regaining control of the parliament in 2004 and the presidency in 2005, all the organs of government are now dominated by conservatives. So, Iran's political system is in some ways more democratic than the paid-for-by-lobbyists in US/UK. It's system actually opens room for both public dissent and political factionalism.

Iran's parliament, which in recent years has competed for power with the army guards and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Behind the scenes, Iran has a complex political-theocratic-military system that has adapted.

However the factionalism has to be done with RESPECT — this may not be as compromising as it seems.

Each episode ended with the country’s most powerful leaders and institutions rallying behind the status quo order, a public demonstration of their unity, and with challengers sidelined.

“It’s not despite these [Iranian] crises but actually precisely because of them that the regime survives, .. In reality, this kind of elite fragmentation only strengthens the resilience of the system as a whole,” Dr. Tabaar

Food Security

Oil Revenues and Smuggling help it survive US Economic sanctions

US tries to cripple with Sanctions

Used Military threats to Preserve Power in 2000+

However all these factions are in lockstep on External Policy - which help Cement Power - Yemen - Iran Assad support - Palestine support

Hormuz Straight = Knife at World's Jugular

Missiles Right into Saudi, UAE, Qatar Oil fields

Nuclear Power the ultimate MAD Regime sanctity

Iran's Alliance with China and oil

Case: China super-stable

Although Chinese CCP regime still faces myriad other internal threats, including secession, rebellion, and mass protests, China has little reason to adopt the coup prevention practices so damaging to conventional military effectiveness. Its coup prevention is SO EFFECTIVE that it can focus all its energy strengthening its economy and military to gain global superpower status.

Case: Assad stays in Power in Syria

Alliance with Iran

  • By hosting Hezbollah and Palestinian fragments, Syria keeps getting funded from Iran and possibly still from radical Islamic loyalists from the Arab world.

  • Iran vs Israel as a common enemy - keeps them together.

Iranian regime is one of the few remaining allies of the embattled Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

For years, the United States has tried to sever the ties between the two countries, but the crisis after crisis has only pushed them closer together.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, has made it clear that Tehran sees the uprising in Syria as a U.S. ploy: "In Syria, the hand of America and Israel is evident," - June 30, 2011

Iran uses Syrian alliance to BOLSTER ITS OWN support amongst its people, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Jihadist Zeal!

US Covert anti-Assad DISTORTS all Sanity

US lost all credibility with its indiscriminate alliance with bad terrorist elements of ISIS.

Alliance with Russia

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  • Dictator's army _ battlefield effectiveness in authoritarian regimes (2015, Cornell University Press)

Weak countries and Interventions -- xfr --

Strong Man, Banana and Warlord Regimes

The features that define revolutionary orders — strong institutionalization, societal unity, political cohesion — are declining worldwide.

Ironically, virtually every other sort of government faces growing instability and seeing the rise of strongman regimes of dictators, not institutionalized, no monopoly control over society. Such regimes are last 8-12 years but they have a crisis, get old or they fall.

Strong man regimes lack the society-wide infrastructure of a revolutionary movement. They are vulnerable to swings in sentiment and institutions like the military, the judiciary or their own party. Many try to reproduce top-down revolutions from above. But most fail, in the process provoking their own ouster.

Even decades-long successes usually collapse on the strong man leader’s departure.

Democracies - Slow decay, Populism and Atrophy

Democracies also struggle under a worldwide trend of fragility.

Often, the clash of parties seems to support the idea that the system itself is stable, but that is not really true!

Consider India under 40 years of Nehru dynasty and TINA - can that be compared to post-coalition - it was a vastly different coalition politics for next 25 years. Now a third era of democracy under fundamentalist BJP/Modi as it gradually consolidates power over all of India's states with no viable alternative.

When he and his co-author began tracking such governments a decade ago, Dr. Levitsky said, they identified 10. Since then, democracies he’s followed in a separate project have come and gone. So have strongmen, at an even faster clip.

But the list of revolutionary states is totally unchanged. “They’re still there,” he said.

Intervention by Imperialists busts many Regimes - TODO

Peacekeeping, UN suck in weak country interventions

US Neglected Lat Am and its influence declined - China puts in Deep Roots

Biden may have to focus on the region more broadly after years of indifference — or limited attention — from previous Republican and Democratic administrations.

U.S. influence began waning in the region over the past decade as it turned toward focusing on terrorism in the Middle East. Basically it did the bidding of UK and Israel instead of following its own national interests. To a large extent it was the military-industrial and lobbyists greed ever since Rumsfield-Cheney-Bush Jr era.

To be fair it is hard when regimes are corrupt and abusive to their people. While in the past US "Fruit Companies" and "Oil Companies" ruled the policy roost, now it is quite neglectful.

US forgot to build on these inchoate democratic movements that would be able to channel some of this anger that we are seeing now, in terms of uprisings, in terms of being able to combat corruption, in terms of being able to offer people real socioeconomic goods.

Now Russia and especially China moved in to finance projects and offer political support and other incentives. China was now the top trading partner for at least eight Latin American nations, and that 19 countries in the region were participating in Beijing’s extensive infrastructure and investment project, known as the Belt and Road Initiative.

More than half of the seven countries in Central America were grappling with challenges to freely elected systems of government. - State Department July 2021

Where is the Monroe Doctrine now?

USA dealing with Teeming Immigrants at the Wall

The influx of migrants from the region is a HUGE concern. U.S. officials tried policy and bribes and relied on Latin American governments to contain them. The analysis also noted a regional commitment to democracy and other human rights that it described as “noteworthy, in spite of uneven practice.”

Drug Wars

Crime and drug trafficking close to the border are worsening rapidly

Entrenched gangs turn to Fentanyl Laced Heroin not Marijuana which is legalized

ODs deaths are now well over 100,000 as compared to a decade of 30,000/year. The homeless not only shit in the streets of SFO, they openly smoke fentanyl which is far more addictive and even a few grains can lead to OD!

Venezuela THE WORST - Maduro - a Painful Sore

Venezuela, once one of South America’s most prosperous countries, is now one of its poorest, gutted by corruption and sanctions that caused its lucrative oil industry to decay. Mr. Maduro remains in power, with the help of Russian and Cuban backing.

Four million refugees fled since then, in one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes. Nearly half of them are in neighboring Colombia.

2018, elections in Venezuela that were widely believed to be rigged were a stark reminder of how democratic institutions in the region had crumbled.

Using the elections as an excuse Trump beefed up economic sanctions and sought to turn Venezuelans against him by backing Juan Guaidó, then the leader of the country’s Parliament, as their rightful president.

2021 Cuba post Castro - mass protests

2015 As vice president during the Obama administration, Mr. Biden oversaw a policy that restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than a half-century.

2017 Trump overturned Obama policy under the lobbying of the small, vocal Cuban vote-bank critical in FL. Trump said the attempt at diplomacy empowered Cuba’s communist government and enriched its repressive military. In the final days of the Trump administration, Cuba was re-designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

2021 Biden accused officials there of “enriching themselves” instead of protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic, repression and economic suffering.

US doesn't want to see another mass exodus of Cubans as boat people. Since Obama, it has been far less friendly in its "wet feet, dry feet" policy to ex-Cubans.

Right Wingers call for US to bomb or help masses regime change

2021 Haiti turmoil calls for US to intervene

Haiti has long suffered lawlessness, violence and natural disasters. - NYT

Then June 2021, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his bed.

Clearly it was a mercenary hit tied to Haitian gangs. Questions are swirling over the arrest of Dr. Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, a doctor with ties to Florida described as playing a central role in the death of the president. Two Americans are among at least 20 people who have been detained thus far. Several of the people under investigation met in the months before the killing to discuss rebuilding the country once the president was out of power,

Biden urging Haiti political leaders to “come together for the good of their country.”

US doesn't want to see another mass exodus of Haitians as boat people.

Colombia unstable

Colombia in spring 2021 grappled with its own domestic unrest, as protesters angry over national taxes and coronavirus fatigue clashed with security forces. President Iván Duque Márquez of Colombia said he did not doubt that the United States would continue to support his country, despite human rights concerns about his government’s tactics.

The US probably has spent billions on Colombia cooperating with its war on drugs.

The presence of millions of Venezuelan refugees makes the situation worse.

Nicaraguan Democracy and its Junta

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega imposed a nationwide crackdown against the news media and civil society before elections in Nov 2020, in which he will seek a fourth term.

Mr. Ortega — a former revolutionary and long a thorn in the side of the US.

The State Department announced it was revoking visas that had allowed 100 Nicaraguan politicians, judges and their family members to travel to the United States, as punishment for undermining democracy, suppressing peaceful protests or abusing human rights.


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