The Arab Revolt

The Arab Revolt occurred between 1916–1918 and was started by the Sherif Hussein bin Ali with the main aim of obtaining independence from the command of Ottoman Turks and creating a single united Arab state ranging from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen.

On 3 July 1908 the Young Turk Revolution began and spread throughout the empire this resulted in the sultan’s declaration of the restoration of the 1876 constitution and the reconvening of parliament. This was known as the Second Constitutional Era. The Arabs’ request were of a reformist nature, limited in general to autonomy, increase use of Arabic in education, and changes in enrolment into the Ottoman Empire in peacetime for Arab conscripts that allowed for local service in the Ottoman army.

The Countercoup was supported by Arab members of the parliament in (1909), which aimed to breakdown the constitution and improve the monarchy of Abdul Hamid II. The dethroned Sultan attempted to attain the Caliphate by putting an end to the non religious policies of the Young Turks, but was driven away to banishment in Selanik by the 31 March Incident and was finally replaced by his brother Mehmed V Reşad.

The Arab forces involved in the revolt amounted to about 5,000 soldiers. However probably only applies to the Arab Regulars who fought with Allenby’s main army, and not the forces under the command of Lawrence and Feisal. On several occasions, especially during the final campaign into Syria, the number of troops would grow considerably.

Many Arabs joined the Revolt, as campaign’s were in progress or only when the fighting was in their home region. During the Aqaba raid, the initial Arab force amounted to only a few hundred, over a thousand more from local tribes joined them for the final attack on Aqaba. Estimates of Hussein’s effective forces range, but through most of 1918, they could have numbered as high as 30,000 men.

The Ottoman Empire participated in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I, under the conditions of the Ottoman-German Alliance. A number of Arab nationalist figures in Damascus and Beirut were arrested, then badly tortured. The flag of the resistance was designed by Sir Mark Sykes, to create an appearance of “Arab-ness” in order to fuel the revolt.

The backlash of the Ottoman Empire and their Central Powers allies, Grand Sharif Hussein, who was the head of the Arab nationalists, entered into an agreement with France and the United Kingdom against the Ottomans around 8 June 1916. This alliance was assisted by the services of a curious young Arab officer in the Ottoman army named Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi.

The after effect of the Arab Revolt resulted in the United Kingdom in agreement with the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence that it would encourage Arab independence if they went against the Ottomans. The United Kingdom and France gave up on the original deal and divided up the area in ways unaccustomed to the Arabs under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement.

This continued to confuse the issue that the Balfour Declaration of 1917, who promised assistance and support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. The Hedjaz land of western Arabia became an independent state under Hussein’s rule until 1927. Then abandoned and isolated by the British policy, which had shifted support to the al Saud family. It was then overcome by Saudi Arabia, which put an end to an era of over 600 years of Hashemite maintenance of the holy land of Islam.

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