When the establishment retains some leverage over reformers change can be slow, superficial, and short-lived. Sudan appears to be a textbook case of this scenario.
History shows that when government elites believe that there is a risk that they may lose control of the capital, they escalate targeted violence against civilians.
The role of the military in toppling authoritarian rulers, after intensive popular protests, raises questions about how the AU's policy against coups should be applied.
Al-Bashir's ability to play a skillful combination of internal and external balancing acts, plus ruthless repression and a divided opposition, kept him in power for three decades.
Almost one-third of countries around the world are authoritarian regimes with the trappings of democracy. Their bad behavior poses a threat to real democracies, as the United States recently learned.
A coup seems so imminent in Venezuela that people are debating whether Maduro's overthrow would be good or bad for Venezuelan democracy. But history suggests a coup may be less likely than it seems.