The January Uprising in Poland took place during the Kingdom of Poland’s struggle against the Russians. It ended in the collapse of the insurgents. As a result, the Kingdom of Poland was absorbed into Russia’s Empire. In the aftermath of the uprising, the Polish National Government justified its inaction on the hope of foreign military intervention.
The January Uprising started on 22 January 1863, with a conscription of young Polish activists into the Imperial Russian Army. Protesters were supported by the lower gentry, artisan, and workers. They were heavily outnumbered, and they received little support from the upper classes. Although some rebels had success in a few engagements, the uprising collapsed in the end.
The insurgency also influenced the future independence activities of the Poles. While it was not successful, the protests did provoke some repression from the tsarist authorities. Some 38,000 people were sent to exile. Moreover, the insurgents were poorly equipped, and most of them abandoned the uprising in the winter of 1863-64.
Egypt’s uprising is being compared to Tunisia’s in 2006. However, Egypt’s uprising was more enduring. Egyptians’ desire for change overpowered the fear of Mubarak. There were three key factors that led to its collapse: economic and political frustration, back-door negotiations with the old regime, and an increasingly repressive security force.
Economic and political frustration were caused by an ongoing trend that had impoverished the poorer sectors of society. This, combined with rising food prices and government cuts to staples, sparked “bread riots.” These events further exasperated ordinary Egyptians. At the same time, political repression and the pauperisation of the middle class played a significant role in the uprising’s demise.
An important element of the uprising’s demise was the assassination of Khaled Said, a journalist who had exposed corruption in the police department. After his death, his image became powerful and symbolic. Meanwhile, the security forces attacked a smaller group of protesters, using birdshot ammunition and throwing rocks at them. Nevertheless, these events did not prevent the uprising from gaining momentum.
Egypt’s uprising is a reminder of the fragility of authoritarian systems. Although it is still unclear whether the new regime will be able to handle a new wave of mass protests, it is important to keep in mind that the potential impact of this revolution should not be underestimated. A failure to address economic and political reasons for the uprising could end up hurting the democratic system itself. Moreover, it may play into the hands of ultra-conservative and Salafist groups.
Several upcoming uprisings, including those in Syria, Bahrain, and Libya, have prompted observers to wonder how the Egyptian uprising will fare. Egypt is currently experiencing political and economic turmoil. However, the uprising has created opportunities for political dissent and has triggered the establishment of new political institutions. Moreover, the opposition and Muslim Brotherhood are gaining ground, and a newly unified opposition is planning demonstrations for the weekend of January 28.
For its part, the Mubarak regime attempted to respond to the uprising by imposing sweeping reforms and cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). These efforts were expected to be effective in weakening the MB, and to secure the security of the military under the new regime.