A sneak peek into Arab’s betrayal of the Ottomans

The Arab Revolt began on June 5, 1916. Sharif Hussein ibn Ali’s sons, Ali and Feisal, led an attack on the Ottoman soldiers in Medina, wanting to take the holy city and its important railway station. After three days, the Arabs stopped attacking, and the Ottoman leader, General Fakhri Pasha, sent troops after the retreating rebels.

On June 10, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali officially declared the revolt in Mecca. His forces successfully captured the city, making the small group of Ottoman soldiers hide in a local fortress. Another son, Emir Abdullah, surrounded the town of Ta’if.

At the same time, other rebel groups supporting Sharif Hussein attacked Jiddah and other ports along the Red Sea. Both sides knew these ports were crucial, so the British quickly sent ships, including one called HMS Ben-My-Chree, to help the Arab forces. The British ships attacked Turkish forts, and planes from Ben-My-Chree went after Turkish soldiers on the land.

By the end of July, the Arabs controlled Jiddah, Yanbu, and Rabegh, allowing the British to send more weapons. The Arab Regular Army, made up of former Ottoman soldiers, joined in. They wore British uniforms and had modern weapons. Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, sent by the British, helped the Arab leaders.

In 1916, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali made sure he had control over the Hejaz and coastal ports, defending against Turkish attacks. Failing to take Medina early on was a problem because the Ottoman Fourth Army sent more soldiers along the Hejaz railway. The Royal Navy helped by stopping Turkish attacks on coastal ports.

Emir Feisal, with Lawrence’s help, captured Wejh in 1917 and attacked the Hejaz railway, blowing up tracks and destroying things. General Sir Edmund Allenby, realizing the Arab Revolt’s potential, led the British forces, especially after the daring capture of Aqaba in June 1917. Aqaba became the new base for Feisal’s army, called the ‘Arab Northern Army,’ and attacks on the railway extended northward.

The Arab Northern Army continued attacking the railway despite tensions over the Sykes-Picot Agreement. They helped the British in the final offensive, leading to the Battle of Meggido in September 1918.

After the victory, Allenby’s troops moved quickly through Palestine and Jordan, entering Lebanon and Syria. At the same time, the Arab Northern Army raced north for Damascus, reaching it on October 1, 1918, alongside Australian Light Horsemen. A month later, the Ottoman Empire agreed to a break, and Arab leaders had tense talks with their former allies, the British and French, about the region’s future.

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