Arab Revolt

Arab Revolt

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The Arab Revolt ( Al-Thawra al-`Arabiyya) was initiated by the Sherif Hussein bin Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

 and creating a single unified Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 state spanning from Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 to Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

.

Background



The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

 goes back to 1821. Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 has its roots in the Mashriq
Mashriq
Mashriq or Mashreq is derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q relating to the east or the sunrise, and essentially means "east"...

 (the Arabs lands east of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

), particularly in countries of Sham (the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

). The political orientation of Arab nationalists in the years prior to the Great War was generally moderate.

The Young Turk Revolution
Young Turk Revolution
The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era...

 began on 3 July 1908 and quickly spread throughout the empire, resulting in the sultan's announcement of the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of parliament. This period is known as the Second Constitutional Era
Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire)
The Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire began shortly after Sultan Abdülhamid II restored the constitutional monarchy after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. The period established many political groups...

. The Arabs' demands were of a reformist nature, limited in general to autonomy, greater use of Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 in education, and changes in conscription in the Ottoman Empire
Conscription in the Ottoman Empire
-1389 forward:In 1389 a system of conscription was introduced in the Ottoman military. In times of need every town, quarter, and village should present a fully equipped conscript at the recruiting office. The new force of irregular infantrymen was called Azabs and it was used in a number of...

 in peacetime for Arab conscripts that allowed local service in the Ottoman army. In the elections held in 1908, the Young Turks through their Committee of Union and Progress
Committee of Union and Progress
The Committee of Union and Progress began as a secret society established as the "Committee of Ottoman Union" in 1889 by the medical students İbrahim Temo, Abdullah Cevdet, İshak Sükuti and Ali Hüseyinzade...

 (CUP) managed to gain the upper hand against the rival group led by Prens Sabahaddin
Prens Sabahaddin
Prence Sabahaddin was an Ottoman sociologist and thinker, because of his violation of the Ottoman dynasty due his political activity and attitude, he was expelled.Prince Sabahaddin, was a person full of surprises.He had his attachments to the Ottoman Palace through his mother,...

. The CUP was more liberal in outlook, bore a strong British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 imprint, and was closer to the Sultan. The new parliament comprised 142 Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

, 60 Arabs, 25 Albanians, 23 Greeks, 12 Armenians (including four Dashnaks and two Hunchas), 5 Jews, 4 Bulgarians, 3 Serbs
Serbs
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

, and 1 Vlach. The CUP in the Ottoman parliament gave more emphasis to centralization and a modernization programme. At this stage Arab nationalism was not yet a mass movement, even in Syria where it was strongest. Many Arabs gave their primary loyalty to their religion or sect, their tribe, or their own particular governments. The ideologies of Ottomanism
Ottomanism
Ottomanism was a concept which developed prior to the First Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire. Its proponents believed that it could solve the social issues that the empire was facing. Ottomanism was highly affected by thinkers such as Montesquieu and Rousseau and the French Revolution. It...

 and Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism
Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state — often a Caliphate. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary...

 were strong competitors of Arab nationalism.

Arab members of the parliament supported the Countercoup (1909)
Countercoup (1909)
The Countercoup of 1909 was an attempt to dismantle the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire and replace it with a monarchy under Sultan Abdul Hamid II...

, which aimed to dismantle the constitution
Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire)
The Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire began shortly after Sultan Abdülhamid II restored the constitutional monarchy after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. The period established many political groups...

 and restore the monarchy of Abdul Hamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

. The dethroned Sultan attempted to regain the Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 by putting an end to the secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 policies of the Young Turks, but was in turn driven away to exile in Selanik by the 31 March Incident
31 March Incident
The 31 March Incident was a 1909 rebellion of reactionaries in İstanbul against the restoration of constitutional monarchy that had taken place in 1908. It took place on 13 April 1909...

 and was eventually replaced by his brother Mehmed V
Mehmed V
Mehmed V Reshad was the 35th Ottoman Sultan. He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid I. He was succeeded by his half-brother Mehmed VI.-Birth:...

 Reşad.

In 1913, intellectuals and politicians from the Arab Mashreq met in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 at the first Arab Congress. They produced a set of demands for greater autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. They again demanded that Arab conscripts to the Ottoman army should not be required to serve in other regions except in time of war.

Forces


It is estimated that the Arab forces involved in the revolt numbered around 5,000 soldiers. This number however probably applies to the Arab Regulars who fought with Allenby's main army, and not the irregular forces under the direction of Lawrence and Feisal. On a few occasions, particularly during the final campaign into Syria, this number would grow significantly. Many Arabs joined the Revolt sporadically, often as a campaign was in progress or only when the fighting entered their home region. During the Aqaba raid, for instance, while the initial Arab force numbered only a few hundred, over a thousand more from local tribes joined them for the final assault on Aqaba. Estimates of Hussein's effective forces vary, but through most of 1918 at least, they may have numbered as high as 30,000 men. The Hashemite Army comprised two distinctive forces; tribal irregulars who waged a guerrilla war against the Ottoman Empire and the Sharifian Army
Sharifian Army
The Sharifian Army was the military force behind the Arab Revolt which was a part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Sharif Husayn ibn 'Ali led the Sharifian Army in a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire with the ultimate goal of uniting the Arab people under and independent government...

, which was recruited from Ottoman Arab POWs, and fought in conventional battles. It should also be noted that in the early days of the Revolt, Hussein's forces were largely made up of Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 and other nomadic desert tribes, who were only loosely allied, loyal more to their respective tribes than the overall cause. The Bedouin would not fight unless paid in advance with gold coin, and by the end of 1916, the French had spent 1.25 million gold francs in subsidizing the revolt. By September 1918, the British were spending £ 220, 000/month to subsidize the revolt. Feisal had hoped that he could convince Arab troops serving in the Ottoman Army to mutiny and join his cause; but the Turkish government sent most of its Arab troops to the front-lines of the war, and thus only a handful of deserters actually joined the Arab forces until later in the campaign. The Hashemite forces were initially poorly equipped, but later were to receive significant supplies of weapons, most notably rifles and machine-guns from Britain and France.

Ottoman troops in the Hejaz numbered 20, 000 men by 1917. At the outbreak of the revolt in June 1916, the VII Corps of the 4th Ottoman Army was stationed in the Hejaz to be joined by the 58th Infantry Division commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Necib Pasha, the 1st Kuvvie- Mürettebe (Provisional Force) led by General Mehmed Cemal Pasha, which had the responsibility of safeguarding the Hejaz railroad and the Hicaz Kuvvei Seferiyesi (Expeditionary Froce of the Hejaz) which was under the command of General Fakhri Pasha
Fakhri Pasha
Fakhri Pasha or Fahreddin Pasha or Umar Fakhr ud-Din Pasha was the commander of Ottoman army and governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919.-Early life:...

. In face of increasing attacks on the Hejaz railroad, the 2nd Kuvvie- Mürettebe was created by 1917. The Ottoman force included a number of Arab units who stayed loyal to the Sultan-Caliph and fought well against the Allies. The Ottoman troops enjoyed an advantage over the Hashemite troops at first in that they were well supplied with modern German weapons. In addition, the Ottoman forces had the support of both the Ottoman air forces, air squardons from Germany and the Ottoman gendarmerie. Moreover, the Ottomans relied upon the support of Ibn Rashid, the King of Ha'il whose tribesmen who dominated what is now northern Saudi Arabia and tied down both the Hashemites and the Saud forces with the threat of their raiding attacks. The great weakness of the Ottoman forces was they were at the end of a long and tenuous supply line in the form of the Hejaz railroad, and because of their logistical weaknesses, were often forced to fight on the defensive. Ottoman offensives against the Hashemite forces more often faltered owning to supply problems than to the actions of the enemey.

The main contribution of the Arab Revolt to the war was to pin down tens of thousands of Ottoman troops who otherwise might have been used to attack the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

, allowing the British to undertake offensive operations with a lower risk of counter-attack. This was indeed the British justification for starting the revolt, a textbook example of asymmetrical warfare which has been studied time and again by military leaders and historians alike.

Conflicts




The Ottoman Empire took part in the Middle Eastern theatre
Middle Eastern theatre of World War I
The Middle Eastern theatre of World War I was the scene of action between 29 October 1914, and 30 October 1918. The combatants were the Ottoman Empire, with some assistance from the other Central Powers, and primarily the British and the Russians among the Allies of World War I...

 of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, under the terms of the Ottoman-German Alliance
Ottoman-German Alliance
The Ottoman–German Alliance was established between the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on August 2, 1914. It was this binding alliance that ultimately led the Ottoman Empire to enter the First World War on the side of the Central Powers....

. Many Arab nationalist figures in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 were arrested, then tortured. The flag of the resistance was designed by Sir Mark Sykes, in an effort to create a feeling of "Arab-ness" in order to fuel the revolt.

Prelude


Because of repression by the Ottoman Empire and their Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 allies, Grand Sharif Hussein, as the guardian of the holy city of Mecca, entered into an alliance with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 against the Ottomans sometime around 8 June 1916, the actual date being somewhat uncertain. This alliance was facilitated by the services of a mysterious young Arab officer in the Ottoman army named Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi
Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi
Lieutenant Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi was an Arab Ottoman staff officer from Mosul. He was stationed in Damascus and played a pivotal role in the events leading up to the Arab Revolt.He was a member of Arab secret societies in Damascus...

.

Hussein had about 50,000 men under arms, but fewer than 10,000 had rifles. Evidence that the Ottoman government was planning to depose him at the end of the war led him to an exchange of letters with British High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 Henry McMahon
Henry McMahon (diplomat)
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Arthur Henry McMahon, GCMG, GCVO, KCIE, CSI was a British diplomat and Indian Army officer who served as the High Commissioner in Egypt from 1915 to 1917. He was also an administrator in British India, and served twice as Chief Commissioner of Balochistan...

 which convinced him that his assistance on the side of the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Persia, with the exception of imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, and the Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n coast. Hussein, who until then had officially been on the Ottoman side decided to defect over the Allied camp because of rumours that Sharif Ali Haidar, leader of the competing Zaid family for the position of Sharif of Mecca was in increasing favour with the Ottoman government, and that he would soon be desposed. The much publicized executions of the Arab nationalist leaders in Damascus led Hussein to fear for his life if he were deposed in favour of Ali Haidar. On June 5, 1916 two of Hussein's sons, the Emirs Ali
Ali of Hejaz
Ali bin Hussein, GBE was King of Hejaz and Grand Sharif of Mecca from October 1924 until December 1925. He was the eldest son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the first modern King of Hejaz, and a scion of the Hashemite family...

 and Faisal
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

 began the revolt by attacking the Ottoman garrison in Medina, but were defeated by an aggressive Turkish defence led by Fakhri Pasha. The revolt proper began on June 10, 1916 when Hussein ordered his supporters to attack the Ottoman garrison in Mecca. In the Battle of Mecca, there ensured over a month of bloody street fighting between the out-numbered, but far better armed Ottoman troops and Hussein's tribesmen. The Hashemite forces in Mecca who were joined by Egyptian troops sent by the British, who provided much needed artillery support finally took Mecca on July 9, 1916. The indiscriminate Ottoman artillery fire, which did much damage to Mecca, turned out to be a potent propaganda weapon for the Hashemites, who portrayed the Ottomans as desecrating Islam's most holy city. Also on June 10, another of Hussein's sons, the Emir Abdullah
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

 attacked Ta'if, which after an initial repulse settled down into a siege. With the Egyptian artillery support, Abdullah took Ta'if on September 22, 1916.

French and British naval forces had cleared the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 of Ottoman gunboats early in the war. The port of Jidda was attacked by 3500 Arabs on 10 June 1916 with the assistance of bombardment by British warships and seaplanes. The seaplane carrier HMS Ben-my-Chree
HMS Ben-my-Chree
HMS Ben-my-Chree was a packet steamer and a Royal Navy seaplane carrier of the First World War. She had originally been built as a fast passenger ferry for the Isle of Man Steam Packet — the third to bear her name — in 1907 by Vickers for the England–Isle of Man route...

 provided crucial air support to the Hashemite forces. The Ottoman garrison surrendered on 16 June. By the end of September 1916 Arab armies had taken the coastal cities of Rabegh, Yenbo, Qunfida, and 6000 Ottoman prisoners with the assistance of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. The capture of the Red Sea ports allowed the British to send over force of 700 Ottoman Arab POWs (who come mostly from what is now Iraq) who had decided to join the revolt led by Nuri as-Sa'id
Nuri as-Said
Nuri Pasha al-Said was an Iraqi politician during the British Mandate and during the Kingdom of Iraq. He served in various key cabinet positions, and served seven terms as Prime Minister of Iraq....

 and a number of Muslim troops from French North Africa. Fifteen thousand well-armed Ottoman troops remained in the Hejaz. However, a direct attack on Medina in October resulted in a bloody repulse of the Arab forces.

1916: T. E. Lawrence



In June 1916, the British send out a number of officials to assist the revolt in the Hejaz, most notably Colonel Cyril Wilson, Colonel Pierce C. Joyce, and Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe. In addition, a French military mission commanded by Colonel Edouard Brémond was sent out. The French enjoyed an advantage over the British in that they sent over a number of Muslim officers such as Captain Muhammand Ould Ali Raho, Claude Prost, and Laurnet Depui (the latter two converted to Islam during their time in Arabia). Captain Rosario Pisani of the French Army, through not a Muslim was also played a notable role in the revolt as an engineering and artillery officer with the Arab Northern Army.

The British government in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 sent a young officer, Captain T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

, to work with the Hashemite forces in the Hejaz in October 1916. The British historian David Murphy wrote that through Lawrence was just one of out many British and French officers serving in Arabia, historians often write like it was Lawrence alone who represented the Allied cause in Arabia.

David Hogarth credited Gertrude Bell for much of the success of the Arab Revolt. She had travelled extensively in the Middle East since 1888, after graduating from Oxford with a First in Modern History. Bell had met Sheikh Harb of the Howeitat in January 1914 and provided a "mass of information" which was crucial to the success of Lawrence's occupation of Akaba covering the "tribal elements ranging between the Hejaz Railway and the Nefud, particularly about the Howeitat group." It was this information, Hogarth emphasized, which "Lawrence, relying on her reports, made signal use of in the Arab campaigns of 1917 and 1918."

Lawrence obtained assistance from the Royal Navy to turn back an Ottoman attack on Yenbu in December 1916. Lawrence's major contribution to the revolt was convincing the Arab leaders (Faisal
Faisal I of Iraq
Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi, was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from 23 August 1921 to 1933...

 and Abdullah
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

) to co-ordinate their actions in support of British strategy. Lawrence developed a close relationship with Faisal, whose Arab Northern Army was to be become the main beneficiary of British aid. By contrast, Lawrence's relations with Abdullah were not good, so Abdullah's Arab Eastern Army received considerably less in way of British aid. Lawrence persuaded the Arabs not to drive the Ottomans out of Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

; instead, the Arabs attacked the Hejaz Railway on many occasions. This tied up more Ottoman troops, who were forced to protect the railway and repair the constant damage.

On December 1, 1916 Fakhri Pasha began an offensive with three brigades out of Medina with the aim of taking the port of Yanbu. At first, Fakhri's troops defeated the Hashemite forces in several engagements, and seemed set to take Yanbu. It was fire and air support from the five ships of the Royal Navy Red Sea Patrol that defeated the Ottoman attempts to take Yanbu with heavy losses on December 11–12, 1916. Fakhri then turned his forces south to take Rabegh, but owning to the guerrilla attacks on his flanks and supply lines, air attacks from the newly established Royal Flying Corps base at Yanbu, and the over-extension of his supply lines, which was forced to turn back on January 18, 1917 to Medina.

The coastal city of Wejh was to be the base for attacks on the Hejaz railway. On 3 January 1917, Faisal began an advance northward along the Red Sea coast with 5100 camel riders, 5300 men on foot, four Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 mountain guns, ten machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s, and 380 baggage camels. The Royal Navy resupplied Faisal from the sea during his march on Wejh. While the 800-man Ottoman garrison prepared for an attack from the south, a landing party of 400 Arabs and 200 Royal Navy bluejackets attacked Wejh from the north on 23 January 1917. Wejh surrendered within 36 hours, and the Ottomans abandoned their advance toward Mecca in favor of a defensive position in Medina with small detachments scattered along the Hejaz railway. The Arab force had increased to about seventy-thousand men armed with twenty-eight-thousand rifles and deployed in three main groups. Ali's force threatened Medina, Abdullah operated from Wadi Ais harassing Ottoman communications and capturing their supplies, and Faisal based his force at Wejh. Camel-mounted Arab raiding parties had an effective radius of 1000 miles (1600 km) carrying their own food and taking water from a system of wells approximately 100 miles (160 km) apart. In late 1916, the Allies start the formation of the Regular Arab Army (also known as the Sharifian Army
Sharifian Army
The Sharifian Army was the military force behind the Arab Revolt which was a part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Sharif Husayn ibn 'Ali led the Sharifian Army in a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire with the ultimate goal of uniting the Arab people under and independent government...

) raised from Ottoman Arab POWs. The soldiers of the Regular Army wore British-style uniforms with the keffiyahs and unlike the tribal guerrillas, fought full-time and in conventional battles. Some of the more notable former Ottoman officers to fight in the Revolt were Nuri as-Said
Nuri as-Said
Nuri Pasha al-Said was an Iraqi politician during the British Mandate and during the Kingdom of Iraq. He served in various key cabinet positions, and served seven terms as Prime Minister of Iraq....

, Jafar al-Askari
Jafar al-Askari
Ja'far Pasha al-Askari ‎ served twice as prime minister of Iraq: from November 22, 1923, to August 3, 1924; and from November 21, 1926, to December 31, 1927....

 and 'Aziz 'Ali al-Misri
'Aziz 'Ali al-Misri
Aziz Ali al-Misri was the co-founder of Al-gahtaniyya and al-‘ahd .-Early Life and Background:Aziz Ali al-Misri was born of both Egyptian and Circassian ancestry. His father, Zakariya, and previous relatives on his father’s side of the family were Circassian, with the original family name before...

.

1917


The year 1917 began well for the Hashemites when the Emir Abdullah and his Arab Eastern Army ambushed an Ottoman convoy led by Ashraf Bey in the desert, and captured £20, 000 worth of gold coins that were intended to bribe the Bedouin into loyalty to the Sultan. Starting in early 1917, the Hashemite guerrillas began attacking the Hejaz railroad. At first, guerrilla forces commended by officers from the Regular Army such as al-Misri, and by British officers such as Newcombe, Lieutenant Hornby and Major H. Garland focused their efforts on blowing up unguarded sections of the Hejaz railroad. Garland was the inventor of the so-called "Garland mine", which used with much destructive force on the Hejaz railroad. In February 1917, Garland succeeded for the first time in destroying a moving locomotive with a mine of his own design. Around Medina, Captain Muhammand Ould Ali Raho of the French Military Mission carried out his first railroad demolition attack in February 1917. Captain Raho was to emerge as one of the leading destroyers of the Hejaz railroad. In March 1917, Lawrence led his first attack on the Hejaz railroad. Typical of such attacks were the one commanded out by Newcombe and Joyce who on the night of July 6/7, 1917 when they had planted over 500 charges on the Hejaz railroad, which all set up off at about 2am. In a raid in August 1917, Captain Raho led a force of Bedouin in destroying 5 kilometers of the Hejaz railroad and four bridges.

In March 1917, an Ottoman force joined by tribesmen from the Kingdom of Ha'il led by Ibn Rashid carried out a sweep of the Hejaz that did much damage to the Hashemite forces. However, the Ottoman failiure to take Yanbu in December 1916 led to the increasing strengthing of the Hashemite forces, and led to the Turkish forces to be forced more and more onto the defensive. Lawrence was later to claim that the failure of the offensive against Yanbu was the turning point that ensured the ultimate defeat of the Ottomans in the Hejaz.

In 1917, Lawrence arranged a joint action with the Arab irregulars and forces under Auda Abu Tayi (until then in the employ of the Ottomans) against the port city of Aqaba
Aqaba
Aqaba is a coastal city in the far south of Jordan, the capital of Aqaba Governorate at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Aqaba is strategically important to Jordan as it is the country's only seaport. Aqaba is best known today as a diving and beach resort, but industrial activity remains important...

. This is now known as the Battle of Aqaba
Battle of Aqaba
Battle of Aqaba was fought for the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The attacking forces of the Arab Revolt, led by Auda ibu Tayi and T. E. Lawrence , were victorious over the Turkish defenders.-Background:...

. Aqaba was the only remaining Ottoman port on the Red Sea and threatened the right flank of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
The Egyptian Expeditionary Force was formed in March 1916 to command the British and British Empire military forces in Egypt during World War I. Originally known as the 'Force in Egypt' it had been commanded by General Maxwell who was recalled to England...

 defending Egypt and preparing to advance into Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Capture of Aqaba would aid transfer of British supplies to the Arab revolt. Lawrence and Auda left Wedj on 9 May 1917 with a party of 40 men to recruit a mobile camel force from the Howeitat of Syria. On 6 July, after an overland attack, Aqaba fell to those Arab forces with only a handful casualties. Lawrence then rode 150 miles to Suez to arrange Royal Navy delivery of food and supplies for the 2500 Arabs and 700 Ottoman prisoners in Aqaba; soon the city was co-occupied by a large Anglo-French flotilla (including warships and sea planes), which helped the Arabs secure their hold on Aqaba. Later in the year, the Hashemite warriors made a series of small raids on Ottoman positions in support of General Allenby's winter attack on the Gaza-Bersheeba defensive line which led to the Battle of Beersheba). Typical of such raid was one led by Lawrence in September 1917 that saw Lawrence destroy a Turkish rail convoy by blowing up the bridge it was crossing at Mudawwarah and then ambushing the Turkish repair party. In November 1917, as aid to Allenby's offensive, Lawrence launched a deep-raiding party into the Yarmouk River
Yarmouk River
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...

 valley, which failed to destroy the railroad bridge at Tel ash-Shehab, but which succeeded in ambushing and destroying the train of General Mehemd Cemal Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman VII Corps. Allenby's victories led directly to the capture of Jerusalem just before Christmas 1917.

1918: Increased Allied assistance and the end of fighting


By the time of Aqaba's capture, many other officers joined Feisal's campaign. A large number of British officers and advisors, led by Lt. Col.s Stewart F. Newcombe and Cyril E. Wilson, arrived to provide the Arabs rifles, explosives, mortars, and machine guns. Artillery was only sporadically supplied due to a general shortage, though Feisal would have several batteries of mountain guns under French Captain Pisani and his Algerians for the Megiddo Campaign. Egyptian and Indian troops also served with the Revolt, primarily as machine gunners and specialist troops, a number of armoured cars
Rolls-Royce Armoured Car
The Rolls-Royce armoured car was a British armoured car developed in 1914 and used in World War I and in the early part of World War II.-Production history:...

 were allocated for use. The Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of the First World War. During the early part of the war, the RFC's responsibilities were centred on support of the British Army, via artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance...

 often supported the Arab operations, and the Imperial Camel Corps
Imperial Camel Corps
The Imperial Camel Corps was a brigade-sized military formation which fought for the Allies in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I. Its personnel were infantry mounted on camels for movement across desert....

 served with the Arabs for a time. The French military mission of 1,100 officers under Brémond established good relations with Hussein and especially with his sons, the Emirs Ali
Ali of Hejaz
Ali bin Hussein, GBE was King of Hejaz and Grand Sharif of Mecca from October 1924 until December 1925. He was the eldest son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the first modern King of Hejaz, and a scion of the Hashemite family...

 and Abdullah
Abdullah I of Jordan
Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, King of Jordan [‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn] عبد الله الأول بن الحسين born in Mecca, Second Saudi State, was the second of three sons of Sherif Hussein bin Ali, Sharif and Emir of Mecca and his first wife Abdiyya bint Abdullah...

, and for this reason, most of the French effort went into assisting the Arab Southern Army commanded by the Emir Ali that was laying siege to Medina
Siege of Medina
Medina, an Islamic holy city in Arabia, underwent a long siege during World War I. Medina was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. In the war, the Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers...

 and the Eastern Army commanded by Abdullah that had the responsibility of protecting Ali's eastern flank from Ibn Rashid. Medina was never taken by the Hashemite forces, and the Ottoman commander, Fakhri Pasha only surrendered Medina when ordered to by the Turkish government on January 9, 1919. The total number of Ottoman troops bottled up in Medina by the time of the surrender were 456 officers and 9, 364 soldiers.

Under the direction of Lawrence, Wilson, and other officers, the Arabs launched a highly successful campaign against the Hejaz Railway, capturing military supplies, destroying trains and tracks, and tying down thousands of Ottoman troops. Though the attacks were mixed in success, they achieved their primary goal of tying down Ottoman troops and cutting off Medina. In January 1918, in one of the largest set-piece battles of the Revolt, Arab forces (including Lawrence) defeated a large Ottoman force at the village of Tafileh, inflicting over 1,000 Ottoman casualties for the loss of a mere forty men. In April 1918, Jafar al-Askari
Jafar al-Askari
Ja'far Pasha al-Askari ‎ served twice as prime minister of Iraq: from November 22, 1923, to August 3, 1924; and from November 21, 1926, to December 31, 1927....

 and Nuri as-Said
Nuri as-Said
Nuri Pasha al-Said was an Iraqi politician during the British Mandate and during the Kingdom of Iraq. He served in various key cabinet positions, and served seven terms as Prime Minister of Iraq....

 led the Arab Regular Army in a frontal attack on the well-defended Ottoman railroad station at Ma'an
Ma'an
Ma'an is a town in southern Jordan 218 km away from the capital Amman. It is the capital of Ma'an Governorate. Ma'an has a population of around 50,000. The city had a population of 22,989 in the 1992 census and is estimated as being about 50,000 as of 2007 according to the Ma'an Municipality...

, which after some initial successes was fought off with heavy losses to both sides. However, the Sharifian Army succeeded in cutting off and thus neutralizing the Ottoman position at Ma'an, who held out until late September 1918. The British refused several requests from al-Askari to use mustard gas on the Ottoman garrison at Ma'an.

In the spring of 1918, Operation Hedgehog, a concerted attempt to sever and destroy the Hejaz railroad was launched. In May 1918, Hedgehog led to the destruction of 25 bridges of the Hejaz railroad. A particularly notable attack of Hedgehog was the storming on August 8, 1918 by the Imperial Camel Corps
Imperial Camel Corps
The Imperial Camel Corps was a brigade-sized military formation which fought for the Allies in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War I. Its personnel were infantry mounted on camels for movement across desert....

, closely supported by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 on the well-defended Hejaz railroad station at Mudawwarah. For the final Allied offensive intended to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war, Allenby asked that Emir Feisal and his Arab Northern Army launch a series of attacks on the main Turkish forces from the east, which was intended to both tie down Ottoman troops and force Turkish commanders to worry about their security of their flanks in the Levant. Supporting the Emir Feisal's army of about 450 men from the Arab Regular Army were tribal contingents from the Rwalla, Bani Sakhr, Agyal, and Howeitat tribes. In addition, Feisal had a group of Gurkha troops, several British armored car squardons, the Egyptian Camel Corps, a group of Algerian artillery men commanded by Captain Pisani and air support from the RAF to assist him.

In 1918, the Arab cavalry gained in strength (as it seemed victory was at hand) and they were able to provide Allenby's army with intelligence on Ottoman army positions. They also harassed Ottoman supply columns, attacked small garrisons, and destroyed railroad tracks. A major victory occurred on 27 September when an entire brigade of Ottoman, Austrian and German troops, retreating from Mezerib, was virtually wiped out in a battle with Arab forces near the village of Tafas (which the Turks had plundered during their retreat). This led to the so-called Tafas massacre, in which Lawrence claimed in a letter to his brother to have issued a "no-prisoners" order, maintaining after the war that massacre was in retaliation for the earlier Ottoman massacre of the village of Tafas, and that he had at least 250 German and Austrian POWs together with an uncounted number of Turks lined up to be summarily shot. Lawrence later wrote in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom that "In a madness born of the horror of Tafas we killed and killed, even blowing in the heads of the fallen and of the animals; as though their death and running blood could slake our agony". In part due to these attacks, Allenby's last offensive, the Battle of Megiddo
Battle of Megiddo (1918)
The Battle of Megiddo took place between 19 September and 1 October 1918, in what was then the northern part of Ottoman Palestine and parts of present-day Syria and Jordan...

, was a stunning success. By late September and October 1918, an increasingly demoralized Ottoman Army began to retreat and surrender whenever possible to British troops. The Ottoman army was routed in less than 10 days of battle. Allenby praised Feisal for his role in the victory: "I send your Highness my greetings and my most cordial congratulations upon the great achievement of your gallant troops... Thanks to our combined efforts, the Ottoman army is everywhere in full retreat".

The first Arab Revolt forces to reach Damascus were Sharif Naser's Hashemite camel cavalry and the cavalry of the Ruwallah
Ruwallah
The Ruwallah are a large Arab tribe of northern Arabia and the Syrian Desert, including modern-day Jordan. Until the demarcation of borders in the Middle East in the early 20th century, the Ruwallah were an almost entirely a warrior tribe centered in the region of al-Jauf and Wadi al-Sirhan in...

 tribe, led by Nuri Sha'lan, on 30 September 1918. The bulk of these troops remained outside of the city with the intention of awaiting the arrival of Sharif Feisal. However, a small contingent from the group was sent within the walls of the city, where they found the Arab Revolt flag already raised by surviving Arab nationalists among the citizenry. Later that day Australian Light Horse troops marched into Damascus. Auda Abu Ta'yi, T. E. Lawrence and Arab troops rode into Damascus the next day, 1 October. At the end of the war, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
The Egyptian Expeditionary Force was formed in March 1916 to command the British and British Empire military forces in Egypt during World War I. Originally known as the 'Force in Egypt' it had been commanded by General Maxwell who was recalled to England...

 had seized Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, large parts of the Arabian peninsula and southern Syria. Medina, cut off from the rest of the Ottoman Empire, would not surrender until January 1919.

Aftermath


The United Kingdom agreed in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, or the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, was a protracted exchange of letters during World War I, between the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn bin Ali, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the future political status of the lands under the...

 that it would support Arab independence if they revolted against the Ottomans. The two sides had different interpretations of this agreement. In the event, the United Kingdom and France reneged on the original deal and divided up the area in ways unfavourable to the Arabs under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

. Further confusing the issue was the Balfour Declaration
Balfour Declaration, 1917
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild , a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.The statement was issued through the efforts of Chaim...

 of 1917, which promised support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. The Hedjaz region of western Arabia became an independent state under Hussein's control, until 1925, when, abandoned and isolated by the British policy–which had shifted support to the al Saud family–it was conquered by Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

.

See also


  • Sinai and Palestine Campaign
    Sinai and Palestine Campaign
    The Sinai and Palestine Campaigns took place in the Middle Eastern Theatre of World War I. A series of battles were fought between British Empire, German Empire and Ottoman Empire forces from 26 January 1915 to 31 October 1918, when the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Ottoman Empire and...

  • South Arabia during World War I
    South Arabia during World War I
    The campaign in South Arabia during World War I was a minor struggle for control of the port city of Aden, an important way station for ships on their way from Asia to the Suez Canal. The British Empire declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 5 November 1914, and the Ottomans responded with their own...


Reference

  • Murphy, David The Arab Revolt 1916-18 Lawrence sets Arabia Ablaze, Osprey: London, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84603-339-1.

Further reading

  • Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace. Avon Books.
  • Korda, Michael
    Michael Korda
    Michael Korda is a writer and novelist who was editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster in New York City.-Early Years:...

    , Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. ISBN 978-0-06-171261-6.
  • Lawrence, T. E. (1935). Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Doubleday, Doran, and Co.
  • Wallach, Janet (1997) Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia. Phoenix/Orion Books.
  • Wilson, Jeremy (1990). Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence. Atheneum.

External links