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The Arab Revolt

Colonel T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, from With Lawrence in Arabia by Lowell Thomas

Colonel T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, from With Lawrence in Arabia by Lowell Thomas

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The Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire began with simultaneous uprisings in the Hejaz along the west coast of the Arabian peninsula. Hussein-ibn-Ali, Grand Sherif of Mecca, and the most powerful prince of Western and Central Arabia, led the revolt, proclaiming the independence of Arabia on June 5, 1916 at Mecca and forcing the surrender of its Turkish garrison on June 13 with Hussein taking 1,100 prisoners.

The British encouraged the nascent Arab revolt and provided some arms, hard currency, and military expertise, including the Arabic-speaking T.E. Lawrence.

Lawrence, a staff officer in Cairo, was dispatched to bring the Arab population into the war on the Allied side. Lawrence offered the Arabs independence, more than he would be able to deliver as the French and English had no intention of turning Palestine over to the native population.

Lawrence and other British officers supported Feisal's Arab forces as they fought a guerilla war against the Turks in the desert and along the coast, often attacking the Hejaz railway that ran from Medina north to Maan, coordinating, sometimes loosely, their actions with the British advance northwards along the Mediterranean coast.

Ripped up rails could be repaired quickly, but not the locomotives that became one of Lawrence's targets.

For more, see the Syria/Palestine Front.

1916-06-05