Natasha Ezrow


Scholars (see Levitsky and Way, 2005) have highlighted the importance of linkages and leverage in facilitating authoritarian breakdown. By linkages, we are referring to the ties that authoritarian regimes have to the United States, the European Union and other Western dominated international institutions and leverage refers to how vulnerable authoritarian regimes are to external pressure from these actors. But what previous scholars have failed to emphasize is that the type of authoritarian regime (i.e., personalist, military and single party) affects how much power international actors have in facilitating the ousting of an autocrat. With the recent events of the Arab Spring, applying linkages and leverage in combination with Barbara Geddes’ typology of authoritarian regimes can help improve our understanding of the role that the international community can play in these events. We differentiate between the various types of authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya, and apply the concepts of linkages and leverage in order to explain the events of the Arab Spring. By combining linkage, leverage, and regime type, this paper highlights the circumstances under which some policy tools will be effective in inducing authoritarian breakdown. The paper emphasizes that removing autocrats will be most difficult in military regimes that have few linkages or incentives to step down.