The Arab Revolt, 1916–18

  • Matthew Hughes
  • William J. Philpott


During the First World War, as part of her war against the Turks, Britain attempted to build up allies among the Arab subjects of the Ottoman empire. Led by Sharif Hussain, the Hashemite Arabs of the Hedjaz region around the Muslim Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina became the most important of these allies. In 1916, they rose up in revolt against Ottoman rule. The British, and to a lesser extent the French, provided military supplies, finance and military advisers to help sustain the Arab revolt. For the British, the Hashemites were of military and imperial value: they could harry Ottoman forces in Arabia while also providing valuable allies for the British empire once the war was over and new powers replaced the old Ottoman empire. For the Hashemites, support from Britain would help them in their attempts to throw off Ottoman rule and create Hashemite-led Arab states in the Middle East. The Arab revolt began in June 1916 with a successful attack on the Ottoman garrison in Mecca. However, an assault on Ottoman troops in Medina, the terminus of the Hedjaz railway that connected the Hedjaz with Damascus to the north failed. Indeed, the garrison at Medina held out until ordered to surrender in 1919 by the Ottoman government in Istanbul.


Military Operation Eastern Desert Successful Attack Liaison Officer British Empire 
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Copyright information

© Matthew Hughes & William J. Philpott 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Hughes
  • William J. Philpott

There are no affiliations available

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