Arab Revolt | Wikipedia audio article
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Arab Revolt | Wikipedia audio article

October 10, 2019


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. The aim of the revolt was to create 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.==Background==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.==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 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. 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.==Conflicts==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.===Prelude===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.===1916: T. E. Lawrence===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.===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 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.===1918: Increased Allied assistance and
the end of fighting===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 Arab Regular Army commanded by Ja’far Pasha
el Askeri brigade of infantry
one battalion Camel Corps one battalion mule-mounted infantry
about eight guns British Section commanded by Lieutenant Colonel
P. C. Joyce Hejaz Armoured Car Battery of Rolls Royce
light armoured cars with machine guns and two 10-pdr guns on Talbot lorries
one Flight of aircraft one Company Egyptian Camel Corps
Egyptian Camel Transport Corps Egyptian Labour Corps
Wireless Station at ‘Aqaba French Detachment commanded by Captain Pisani
two mountain guns four machine guns and 10 automatic riflesIn
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.==Aftermath==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.==Views on the Arab Revolt=====
Ambitions of Hussein===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.===Secular nature of the revolt===
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.===Failure to generate support===
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.==See also==
Campaigns of the Arab Revolt Flag of the Arab Revolt
History of Saudi Arabia South Arabia during World War I==Notes=====Footnotes

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