The Arab Revolt (Arabic: الثورة العربية, al-Thawra al-‘Arabiyya; Turkish: Arap İsyanı) or Great Arab Revolt (Arabic: الثورة العربية الكبرى, al-Thawra al-‘Arabiyya al-Kubrā) was a military uprising of Arab forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. On the basis of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, an agreement between the British government and Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the revolt was officially initiated at Mecca on June 10, 1916.[a] The aim of the revolt was the creation a single unified and independent Arab state stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen, which the British had promised to recognize.
The Sharifian Army led by Hussein and the Hashemites, with the military backing from the British Empire and the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force, successfully battled and repelled the Ottoman military presence from much of the Hejaz and Transjordan. The rebellion eventually took Damascus and set up a short-lived monarchy led by Faisal, a son of Hussein.
The Middle East was later partitioned by the Britain and France into mandate territories, and the British were accused of reneging on their promise to support a unified independent Arab state.
|Part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I|
Soldiers of the Sharifian Army in northern Yanbu carrying the Flag of the Arab Revolt.
Kingdom of Hejaz|
|Commanders and leaders|
Hussein bin Ali|
Faisal bin Hussein
Abdullah bin Hussein
Ali bin Hussein
T. E. Lawrence
Mehmed V |
Otto Liman von Sanders
Saud bin Abdulaziz
30,000 (June 1916)|
|Casualties and losses|
~10,000 disease deaths
The rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire dates from at least 1821. Arab nationalism has its roots in the Mashriq (the Arab lands east of Egypt), particularly in countries of Sham (the Levant). The political orientation of Arab nationalists in the years prior to the Great War was generally moderate. The Arabs' demands were of a reformist nature, limited in general to autonomy, greater use of Arabic in education, and changes in conscription in the Ottoman Empire in peacetime for Arab conscripts that allowed local service in the Ottoman army.
The Young Turk Revolution began on 3 July 1908 and quickly spread throughout the empire. As a result, sultan Abdul Hamid II was forced to announce the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of the Ottoman parliament. This period is known as the Second Constitutional Era. In the elections held in 1908, the Young Turks through their Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) managed to gain the upper hand against the Liberal Union led by Prince Sabahaddin. The CUP preached a message that was a mixture of pan-Islamism, Ottomanism, and pan-Turkicism, which was adjusted as the conditions warranted. At its heart, the CUP were Turkish nationalists who wanted to see the Turks as the dominant group within the Ottoman Empire. The new parliament was composed of 142 Turks, 60 Arabs, 25 Albanians, 23 Greeks, 12 Armenians (including four Dashnaks and two Hunchaks), 5 Jews, 4 Bulgarians, 3 Serbs, and 1 Vlach. The CUP in the parliament gave more emphasis to centralization and a modernization program.
Arab members of the parliament supported the countercoup of 1909, which aimed to dismantle the constitutional system and restore the absolute monarchy of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The dethroned Sultan attempted to regain the caliphate by putting an end to the secular policies of the Young Turks, but was in turn driven away to exile in Selanik by the 31 March Incident (where the Young Turks defeated the countercoup) and eventually replaced by his brother Mehmed V Reşad.
In 1913, intellectuals and politicians from the Arab Mashriq met in Paris 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.
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 during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign with Allenby's Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and not the irregular forces under the direction of T.E. Lawrence and Faisal. 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 Faisal'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, which was recruited from Ottoman Arab POWs, and fought in conventional battles. In the early days of the revolt, Faisal's forces were largely made up of Bedouin 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. Faisal had hoped that he could convince Arab troops serving in the Ottoman Army to mutiny and join his cause, but the Ottoman government sent most of its Arab troops to the Western 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 Force of the Hejaz) which was under the command of General Fakhri Pasha. 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.[b] 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 squadrons from Germany and the Ottoman gendarmerie. Moreover, the Ottomans relied upon the support of Ibn Rashid, the King of Ha'il whose tribesmen 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 due to supply problems than to the actions of the enemy.
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, 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.
The Ottoman Empire took part in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I, under the terms of the Ottoman–German Alliance. Many Arab nationalist figures in Damascus and Beirut 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.
When Kitchener was Consul-General in Egypt, contacts between Abdullah and Kitchener had eventually culminated in a telegram of 1 November 1914 from Kitchener (recently appointed as Secretary of War) to Hussein wherein Great Britain would, in exchange for support from the Arabs of Hejaz,
“...guarantee the independence, rights and privileges of the Sharifate against all foreign external foreign aggression, in particular that of the Ottomans”
The Sharif indicated that he could not break with the Ottomans immediately, and it did not happen till the following year. From July 14, 1915 to March 10, 1916, a total of ten letters, five from each side, were exchanged between Sir Henry McMahon and Sherif Hussein. Hussein's letter of 18 February 1916 appealed to McMahon for £50,000 in gold plus weapons, ammunition, and food. Feisal claimed that he was awaiting the arrival of 'not less than 100,000 people' for the planned revolt. McMahon's reply of 10 March 1916 confirmed British agreement to the requests and concluded the correspondence. Hussein, who until then had officially been on the Ottoman side, was now convinced that his assistance to the Triple Entente would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, with the exception of imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syrian coast. He decided to join the Allied camp immediately, because of rumours that he would soon be deposed as Sharif of Mecca by the Ottoman government in favor of Sharif Ali Haidar, leader of the rival Zaid family. 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. Hussein had about 50,000 men under arms, but fewer than 10,000 had rifles. On June 5, 1916 two of Hussein's sons, the emirs ‘Ali and Faisal, 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 ensued 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 were joined by Egyptian troops sent by the British, who provided much needed artillery support, and 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 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 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 provided crucial air support to the Hashemite forces. The Ottoman garrison surrendered on 16 June. By the end of September 1916 the Sharifian army had taken the coastal cities of Rabegh, Yenbo, Qunfida, and 6000 Ottoman prisoners with the assistance of the Royal Navy. The capture of the Red Sea ports allowed the British to send over a force of 700 Ottoman Arab POWs (who primarily came from what is now Iraq) who had decided to join the revolt led by Nuri as-Sa'id 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.
In June 1916, the British sent out a number of officials to assist the revolt in the Hejaz, most notably Colonel Cyril Wilson, Colonel Pierce C. Joyce, and Lt-Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe. Herbert Garland was also involved. 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 included a number of Muslim officers such as Captain Muhammand Ould Ali Raho, Claude Prost, and Laurent Depui (the latter two converted to Islam during their time in Arabia). Captain Rosario Pisani of the French Army, though not a Muslim, also played a notable role in the revolt as an engineering and artillery officer with the Arab Northern Army.
The British government in Egypt sent a young officer, Captain T. E. Lawrence, to work with the Hashemite forces in the Hejaz in October 1916. The British historian David Murphy wrote that though Lawrence was just one out of many British and French officers serving in Arabia, historians often write as though 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 thus was able to provide a "mass of information" which was crucial to the success of Lawrence's occupation of Aqaba 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 and 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; 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 owing 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, he 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 mountain guns, ten machine guns, 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 started the formation of the Regular Arab Army (also known as the Sharifian Army) 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, Jafar al-Askari and 'Aziz 'Ali al-Misri.
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 commanded by officers from the Regular Army such as al-Misri, and by British officers such as Newcombe, Lieutenant Hornby and Major Herbert Garland focused their efforts on blowing up unguarded sections of the Hejaz railroad. Garland was the inventor of the so-called "Garland mine", which was 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 went off at about 2 am. 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 failure to take Yanbu in December 1916 led to the increased strengthening of the Hashemite forces, and led to the Ottoman forces to assume 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. This is now known as the Battle of Aqaba. Aqaba was the only remaining Ottoman port on the Red Sea and threatened the right flank of Britain's Egyptian Expeditionary Force defending Egypt and preparing to advance into Sanjak Maan of the Syria Vilayet. 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, a Syrian tribe renowned for fighting on camels. On 6 July, after an overland attack, Aqaba fell to those Arab forces with only a handful of 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. Even as the Hashemite armies advanced, they still encountered sometimes fierce opposition from local residents. In July 1917, residents of the town of Karak fought against the Hashemite forces and turned them back. Later in the year British intelligence reports suggested that most of the tribes in the region east of the Jordan River were "firmly in the Ottoman camp." The tribes feared repressions and losing the money they had received from the Ottomans for their loyalty. Later in the year, the Hashemite warriors made a series of small raids on Ottoman positions in support of British General Allenby's winter attack on the Gaza-Bersheeba defensive line which led to the Battle of Beersheba). Typical of such raids 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 Mudawwara 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 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 British capture of Jerusalem just before Christmas 1917.
By the time of Aqaba's capture, many other officers joined Faisal'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 Faisal 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 were allocated for use. The Royal Flying Corps often supported the Arab operations, and the Imperial Camel Corps 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 and 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 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 March 1918 the Arab Northern Army consisted of
In April 1918, Jafar al-Askari and Nuri as-Said led the Arab Regular Army in a frontal attack on the well-defended Ottoman railroad station at Ma'an, 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. On 11 May Arab regulars captured Jerdun and 140 prisoners. Five weeks later, on 24 July Nos. 5 and 7 Companies of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade commanded by Major R. V. Buxton, marched from the Suez Canal to arrive at Aqaba on 30 July, to attack the Mudawwara Station. A particularly notable attack of Hedgehog was the storming on August 8, 1918, by the Imperial Camel Corps, closely supported by the Royal Air Force, of the well-defended Hejaz railroad station at Mudawwara. They captured 120 prisoners and two guns, suffering 17 casualties in the operation. Buxton's two companies of Imperial Camel Corps Brigade continued on towards Amman, where they hoped to destroy the main bridge. However 20 miles (32 km) from the city they were attacked by aircraft, forcing them to withdraw eventually back to Beersheba where they arrived on 6 September; a march of 700 miles (1,100 km) in 44 days. For the final Allied offensive intended to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war, Allenby asked that Emir Faisal 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 Faisal'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, Faisal had a group of Gurkha troops, several British armored car squadrons, 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, 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. "Sherifial irregulars" accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel T. E. Lawrence captured Deraa on 27 September 1918. The Ottoman army was routed in less than 10 days of battle. Allenby praised Faisal 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 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 Faisal. 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 had seized Palestine, Transjordan, Lebanon, 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.
The United Kingdom agreed in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence 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 that the Arabs felt were unfavourable to them under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. Further confusing the issue was the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine. For a brief period, the Hejaz region of western Arabia became a self-declared state — but have not been universally recognised as such — under Hussein's control. It was eventually conquered by Ibn Saud in 1925 as part of his military and socio-political campaign for the unification of Saudi Arabia.
The Arab revolt is seen by historians as the first organized movement of Arab nationalism. It brought together different Arab groups for the first time with the common goal to fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire. Much of the history of Arabic independence stemmed from the revolt beginning with the kingdom founded by Hussein. After the war was over, the Arab revolt had implications. Groups of people were put into classes based on if they had fought in the revolt or not and what their rank was. In Iraq, a group of Sharifian Officers from the Arab Revolt formed a political party which they were head of. Still to this day the Hashemite kingdom in Jordan is influenced by the actions of Arab leaders in the revolt.
According to Efraim Karsh of Bar-Ilan University, Sharif Hussein of Mecca spent most of his life living in Constantinople, spoke better Turkish than he did Arabic, and until 1916 had been regarded by almost everyone as a loyal Ottoman official. Karsh called Hussein "a man with grandiose ambitions" who had first started to fall out with his masters in Constantinople when the dictatorship—comprising a triumvirate known as the Three Pashas, General Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, and Cemal Pasha, representing the radical Turkish nationalist wing of the CUP—seized power in a coup d'état in January 1913 and began to pursue a policy of centralization, which crimped Hussein's powerbase in the Hejaz more and more. Hussein started to embrace the language of Arab nationalism only after he began his revolt against the Ottoman government in June 1916, and even then Arab nationalism was one out of the many arguments that he used to advance claims to rule most of the Middle East, which were just as often justified by the need to hold together the Islamic Ummah. Hussein saw himself as the founder of a new empire, and looked down upon his fellow Ottoman Arabs as backward, ignorant people whom he was "destined" to rule.
Though the Sharifian revolt has tended to be regarded as a revolt rooted in a secular Arab nationalist sentiment, the Sharif did not present it in those terms; rather, he accused the Young Turks of violating the sacred tenets of Islam and called Arab Muslims to sacred rebellion against the ostensibly "impious" Ottoman government. Contrarily, Turks as well as many Arab leaders accused rebelling tribes of betraying the Muslim caliphate during a campaign against imperialist powers which were trying to divide and govern the Muslim lands.
William L. Cleveland of Simon Fraser University states that the revolt failed to generate significant support from within the Ottoman Empire's Arab provinces, and remained largely limited to tribal levies from the Arabian Peninsula loyal to Sharif Hussein. Efraim Karsh of Bar-Ilan University considers the term Arab Revolt as a misnomer as it implies that the majority of the Ottoman Arabs rebelled, when in fact the majority stayed loyal.
According to Karsh, 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 and Pan-Islamism provided strong competition for Arab nationalism. The vast majority of the Arabs living in the Ottoman Empire were primarily loyal to their own families, clans, and tribes and in terms of broader loyalties, saw themselves as Muslims rather than as Arabs, which in practical terms meant support for the Ottoman Empire, whose sultan also claimed to be the caliph. Traditional Islamic theory preaches the message that all Muslims, regardless of their ethnicity or race, should live together in the Ummah, where usually been interpreted to mean one state, and for centuries Muslims living under Ottoman rule, whether they be Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Albanians, and so forth all saw themselves as united by a common religion and state. In the Ottoman Empire, Sunni Islam was the state religion, and the sultan-caliph was the supreme religious-political leader, thus making the crown and the faith one and the same. Before 1914, of the ten million or so Arabs living under Ottoman rule, only a mere 350 were involved in various feuding nationalist groups, most of whom wanted only autonomy rather than independence.
Although clandestine support for the revolt existed in some parts of Syria, Husayn's call failed to generate any organized response in the Arabic-speaking provinces; indeed, many Arab public figures accused Husayn of being a traitor and condemned his actions as dividing the Ottoman-Islamic Empire at a time when unity was crucial. Rather than a popular uprising against the Ottoman Empire, the Arab Revolt was a more narrowly based enterprise relying on tribal levies from Arabia and dominated by the Hashimite family.
The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, later came to be known as "The Great Revolt", was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine against the British administration of the Palestine Mandate, demanding Arab independence and the end of the policy of open-ended Jewish immigration and land purchases with the stated goal of establishing a "Jewish National Home". The dissent was directly influenced by the Qassamite rebellion, following the killing of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam in 1935, as well as the declaration by Hajj Amin al-Husseini of 16 May 1936 as 'Palestine Day' and calling for a General Strike. The revolt was branded by many in the Jewish Yishuv as "immoral and terroristic", often comparing it to fascism and nazism. Ben Gurion however described Arab causes as fear of growing Jewish economic power, opposition to mass Jewish immigration and fear of the English identification with Zionism.The general strike lasted from April to October 1936, initiating the violent revolt. The revolt consisted of two distinct phases. The first phase was directed primarily by the urban and elitist Higher Arab Committee (HAC) and was focused mainly on strikes and other forms of political protest. By October 1936, this phase had been defeated by the British civil administration using a combination of political concessions, international diplomacy (involving the rulers of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan and Yemen) and the threat of martial law. The second phase, which began late in 1937, was a violent and peasant-led resistance movement provoked by British repression in 1936 that increasingly targeted British forces. During this phase, the rebellion was brutally suppressed by the British Army and the Palestine Police Force using repressive measures that were intended to intimidate the Arab population and undermine popular support for the revolt. During this phase, a more dominant role on the Arab side was taken by the Nashashibi clan, whose NDP party quickly withdrew from the rebel Arab Higher Committee, led by the radical faction of Amin al-Husseini, and instead sided with the British – dispatching "Fasail al-Salam" (the "Peace Bands") in coordination with the British Army against nationalist and Jihadist Arab "Fasail" units (literally "bands").
According to official British figures covering the whole revolt, the army and police killed more than 2,000 Arabs in combat, 108 were hanged, and 961 died because of what they described as "gang and terrorist activities". In an analysis of the British statistics, Walid Khalidi estimates 19,792 casualties for the Arabs, with 5,032 dead: 3,832 killed by the British and 1,200 dead because of "terrorism", and 14,760 wounded. Over ten percent of the adult male Palestinian Arab population between 20 and 60 was killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled. Estimates of the number of Palestinian Jews killed range from 91 to several hundred.The Arab revolt in Mandatory Palestine was unsuccessful, and its consequences affected the outcome of the 1948 Palestine war. It caused the British Mandate to give crucial support to pre-state Zionist militias like the Haganah, whereas on the Palestinian Arab side, the revolt forced the flight into exile of the main Palestinian Arab leader of the period, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – Haj Amin al-Husseini.Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni
Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni (Arabic: عبد القادر الحسيني, also spelled Abd al-Qader al-Husseini) (1907 – 8 April 1948) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and fighter who in late 1933 founded the secret militant group known as the Organization for Holy Struggle (Munathamat al-Jihad al-Muqaddas), which he and Hasan Salama commanded as the Army of the Holy War (Jaysh al-Jihad al-Muqaddas) during the 1936–39 Arab revolt and during the 1948 war.Battle of Aqaba
The Battle of Aqaba (6 July 1917) was fought for the Red Sea port of Aqaba (now in Jordan). The attacking forces of the Arab Revolt, led by Auda ibu Tayi and advised by T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), were victorious over the Ottoman defenders.Battle of Mecca (1916)
The Battle of Mecca occurred in the Muslim holy city of Mecca in June and July 1916. On June 10, the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, the leader of the Banu Hashim clan, started a revolt against the Ottoman Caliphate from this city. The Battle of Mecca was part of the Arab Revolt of World War I.Battle of Taif (1916)
The Battle of Taif was fought between Ottoman forces and Syed Hussien bin Ali Sharif of Mecca in 1916. The Ottoman Army was in Taif, with Syed's forces besieging the city and after many weeks siege and fiercest struggle Syed's forces were able to capture the Taif. After the fall of Mecca in July 1916 the fall of Taif was a major blow for Turks who were fighting in First World War against Britain. The British helped Syed Hussien's bin Ali's Forces by providing them with guns.Battle of Wadi Musa
The Battle of Wadi Musa was a battle fought between the Arab Army and the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918.
The battle began when General Djemal Pasha ordered his forces to secure the Hejaz Railway by "any and all means". The Ottoman Army at Ma'an was sent to deal with the North Arab Army. The Ottomans were ambushed by 700 Arab troops, inflicting heavy casualties and capturing 300 men. The remaining Ottoman forces retreated, leaving the railway uncaptured.Capture of Yanbu
The battle of Yanbu was an Ottoman attempt to recapture the city of Yanbu.Flag of Jordan
The flag of Jordan, officially adopted on 18 April 1928, is based on the 1917 flag of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The flag consists of horizontal black, white, and green bands that are connected by a red chevron. The colors stand are the Pan-Arab Colors, representing the Abbasid (black band), Umayyad (white band), and Fatimid (green band) caliphates. The red chevron is for the Hashemite dynasty, and the Arab Revolt.Flag of Palestine
The Palestinian flag (Arabic: علم فلسطين) is a tricolor of three equal horizontal stripes (black, white, and green from top to bottom) overlaid by a red triangle issuing from the hoist. This flag is derived from the Pan-Arab colors and is used to represent the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people. It was first adopted on 28 May 1964 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The flag is almost identical to that of the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz, which is the western portion of the Arabian peninsula, and the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party (both use a 2:3 ratio as opposed to the Palestine's 1:2) as well as the short-lived Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan (which had an equilateral triangle at the hoist). It is also very similar to the Flag of Jordan and Flag of Western Sahara, all of which draw their inspiration from the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule (1916–1918). The flag of the Arab Revolt had the same graphic form, but the colours were arranged differently (white on the bottom, rather than in the middle).Flag of the Arab Revolt
The Flag of the Arab Revolt also known as the Flag of Hejaz was a flag used by the Arab nationalists during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.Hashemites
The Hashemites (Arabic: الهاشميون, Al-Hāshimīyūn; also House of Hashim) are the ruling royal family of Jordan. The House was also the royal family of Syria (1920), Hejaz (1916–1925) and Iraq (1921–1958). The family belongs to the Dhawu Awn, one of the branches of the Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca – also referred to as Hashemites – who ruled Mecca continuously from the 10th century until its conquest by the House of Saud in 1924. Their eponymous ancestor is traditionally considered to be Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, great-grandfather of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.
The current dynasty was founded by Sharif Hussein ibn Ali, who was appointed as Sharif and Emir of Mecca by Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1908, then in 1916 was proclaimed King of the Arab Lands (but only recognized as King of the Hejaz) after initiating the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. His sons Abdullah and Faisal assumed the thrones of Jordan and Iraq in 1921.Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca
Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi (Arabic: الحسين بن علي الهاشمي, al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī al-Hāshimī; 1853/1854 – 4 June 1931) was a Hashemite Arab leader who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 and, after proclaiming the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. At the end of his reign he also briefly laid claim to the office of Caliph. He was said to be a 37th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad as he belongs to the Hashemite family.
A member of the Awn clan of the Qatadid emirs of Mecca, he was perceived to have rebellious inclinations and in 1893 was summoned to Constantinople where he was kept on the Council of State. In 1908, in the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution, he was appointed Emir of Mecca by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. In 1916, with the promise of British support for Arab independence, he proclaimed the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, accusing the Committee of Union and Progress of violating tenets of Islam and limiting the power of the sultan-caliph. Shortly after the outbreak of the revolt, Hussein declared himself 'King of the Arab Countries'. However, his pan-Arab aspirations were not accepted by the Allies, who recognised him only as King of the Hejaz.
After World War I Hussein refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, in protest at the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of British and French mandates in Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. He later refused to sign the Anglo-Hashemite Treaty and thus deprived himself of British support when his kingdom was invaded by Ibn Saud. In March 1924, when the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished, Hussein proclaimed himself Caliph of all Muslims. In October 1924, facing defeat by Ibn Saud, he abdicated and was succeeded as king by his eldest son Ali. His sons Faisal and Abdullah were made rulers of Iraq and Transjordan respectively in 1921.Jaffa riots (April 1936)
The Jaffa riots of April 1936, known to Jews as The Bloody Day in Jaffa (Hebrew: יום הדמים ביפו), refers to a spate of violent attacks on Jews that began on 19 April 1936 in Jaffa. A total of 14 Jews and 2 Arabs were killed during the riots.
The event is often described as marking the start of the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine.Kingdom of Hejaz
The Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz (Arabic: المملكة الحجازية الهاشمية, Al-Mamlakah al-Ḥijāzyah Al-Hāshimīyah) was a state in the Hejaz region in the Middle East, the western portion of the Arabian peninsula ruled by the Hashemite dynasty. It achieved national independence after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire by the British Empire, during World War I, when the Sharif of Mecca fought in alliance with the British Imperial forces to drive the Ottoman Army from the Arabian Peninsula during the Arab Revolt.
The new kingdom had a brief life and then was conquered in 1925 by the neighbouring Sultanate of Nejd under a resurgent House of Saud, creating the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd.On 23 September 1932, the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd joined the Saudi dominions of Al-Hasa and Qatif, as the unified Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Pan-Arab colors
The Pan-Arab colors are black, white, green, and red. Individually, each of the four Pan-Arab colors were intended to represent a certain Arab dynasty, or era. The black was the Abbasid dynastic color; white was the Umayyad dynastic color; green was the Fatimid dynastic color; and red was the Hashemite dynastic color and also represented the Ottoman Empire. The four colors derived their potency from a verse by 14th century Iraqi poet Safi Al-Din Al-Hilli: "White are our acts, black our battles, green our fields, and red our swords".Pan-Arab colors were first combined in 1916 in the flag of the Arab Revolt, designed by the British diplomat Sir Mark Sykes. Many current flags are based on Arab Revolt colors, such as the flags of Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and the United Arab Emirates, and formerly in the flag of the brief six month union of the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan.
From the 1950s onwards, a sub-set of the Pan-Arab colors, the Arab Liberation colors, came to prominence. These consist of a tricolor of red, white and black bands, with green given less prominence. The Arab Liberation colors were inspired by the use of the Arab Liberation Flag in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. These appear in the current flags of Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and formerly in the flags of the rival states of North Yemen and South Yemen, and in the short-lived Arab unions of the United Arab Republic and the Federation of Arab Republics.Peasants' revolt in Palestine
The Peasants' Revolt was a rebellion against Egyptian conscription and taxation policies in Palestine. While rebel ranks consisted mostly of the local peasantry, urban notables and Bedouin tribes also formed an integral part of the revolt, which was a collective reaction to Egypt's gradual elimination of the unofficial rights and privileges previously enjoyed by the various classes of society in the Levant under Ottoman rule.As part of Muhammad Ali's modernization policies, Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian governor of the Levant, issued conscription orders for a fifth of all Muslim males of fighting age. Encouraged by rural sheikh Qasim al-Ahmad, the urban notables of Nablus, Hebron and the Jerusalem-Jaffa area did not carry out Ibrahim Pasha's orders to conscript, disarm and tax the local peasantry. The religious notables of Safad followed suit. Qasim and other local leaders rallied their kinsmen and revolted against the authorities in May 1834, taking control of several towns. While the core of the fighting was in the central mountain regions of Palestine (Samaria and Judea), the revolt also spread to the Galilee, Gaza and parts of Transjordan. Jerusalem was briefly captured by the rebels and plundered. Faced with the superior firepower and organization of Ibrahim Pasha's troops, the rebels were defeated in Jabal Nablus, Jerusalem and the coastal plain before their final defeat in Hebron, which was leveled. Afterward, Ibrahim Pasha's troops pursued and captured Qasim in al-Karak, which was also leveled.
By the 20th century, the revolt was largely absent in the Palestinian collective memory, from which "the humiliating and traumatic events" were "conveniently erased", according to historian Baruch Kimmerling. However, Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal state that the revolt was a formative event for the Palestinian sense of nationhood in that it brought together disparate groups against a common enemy. Moreover, they asserted that these groups reemerged later to constitute the Palestinian people. The revolt represented a moment of political unity in Palestine. However, the ultimate intention of the notables and rebel leaders was to force out the Egyptian army and reinstate Ottoman rule as a means of restoring the Ottoman-era standards that defined the relationship between the government and the governed. These standards were made up of the religious laws, administrative codes and local norms and traditions that were disrupted by Egyptian reforms.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. Sharif Hussain of Mecca revolted against the caliph and the Ottoman Empire which, under the leadership of the nationalistic Young Turks, had ignored the wishes of the Caliph and sided with the Central Powers. Hussain instead sided with the British Empire. T. E. Lawrence was instrumental in this revolt. Hussain occupied Mecca and besieged Medina. It was one of the longest sieges in history that lasted till even after the end of war. Fahreddin Pasha was the defender of Medina. Some celebrated him as "the Lion of the Desert" despite the suffering of those who remained in Medina. The siege lasted two years and seven months.T. E. Lawrence
Thomas Edward Lawrence, (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer. He was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia—a title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.
He was born out of wedlock in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Thomas Chapman, who became Sir Thomas Chapman, 7th Baronet in 1914, an Anglo-Irish nobleman from County Westmeath. His mother was Sarah Junner, a Scottish governess for whom Chapman had left his wife and family in Ireland to cohabit; they called themselves Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence. The name "Lawrence" was probably adopted from Sarah's likely father; her mother was employed as a servant for a Lawrence family when she became pregnant. In 1889, the family moved to Kirkcudbright in Scotland where his brother William George was born, before moving to Dinard in France. In 1896, the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where Thomas attended the high school and then studied history at Jesus College from 1907 to 1910. Between 1910 and 1914, he worked as an archaeologist for the British Museum, chiefly at Carchemish in Ottoman Syria.
Soon after the outbreak of war, he volunteered for the British Army and was stationed in Egypt. In 1916, he was sent to Arabia on an intelligence mission and quickly became involved with the Arab Revolt as a liaison to the Arab forces, along with other British officers. He worked closely with Emir Faisal, a leader of the revolt, and he participated in and sometimes led military activities against the Ottoman armed forces, culminating in the capture of Damascus in October 1918.
After the war, Lawrence joined the Foreign Office, working with the British government and with Faisal. In 1922, he retreated from public life and spent the years until 1935 serving as an enlisted man, mostly in the Royal Air Force, with a brief stint in the Army. During this time, he published his best-known work Seven Pillars of Wisdom, an autobiographical account of his participation in the Arab Revolt. He also translated books into English and wrote The Mint, which was published posthumously and detailed his time in the Royal Air Force working as an ordinary aircraftman. He corresponded extensively and was friendly with well-known artists, writers, and politicians. For the Royal Air Force, he participated in the development of rescue motorboats.
Lawrence's public image resulted in part from the sensationalised reporting of the Arab revolt by American journalist Lowell Thomas, as well as from Seven Pillars of Wisdom. In 1935, Lawrence was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident in Dorset.Wall and tower
Tower and Stockade (Hebrew: חוֹמָה וּמִגְדָּל, translit. Homa u'migdal, lit. "wall and tower"), was a settlement method used by Zionist settlers in Mandatory Palestine during the 1936–39 Arab Revolt. The establishment of new Jewish settlements was legally restricted by the Mandatory authorities, but the British generally gave their tacit accord to the Tower and Stockade actions as a means of countering the Arab revolt. During the course of the Tower and Stockade campaign, some 57 Jewish settlements including 52 kibbutzim and several moshavim were established throughout the country. The legal base was a Turkish Ottoman law that was in effect during the Mandate period, which stated that no illegal building may be demolished if the roof has been completed.