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A Picture From History: Arab Revolt

This venture into history leads us to the Arab Revolt of World War I and the Bedouins -- who fought alongside Lawrence of Arabia.
Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt warriors, 1916

Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia as he is more commonly known, stands as probably the most famous British warfighter of World War I.

While we could write a book about him, and many have, instead, we’re focusing on the Bedouins that Lawrence fought with.

If you haven’t seen the legendary movie Lawrence of Arabia then you should do yourself a favor and watch it. Not only does it give a reasonable overview of the conflict, but it’s also just an amazing movie by every standard.

Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia, 1917

To sum it up, during World War I the Ottoman Empire was large and powerful. 

For a host of strategic reasons, the British in 1916 worked with Hussein bin Ali the Sharif of Mecca to stage the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans.

Hassein bin Ali was a leader among the Arab people. Following the revolt, he would be named King of Hejaz. He was also the 37th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad. Suffice to say, the man had clout.

Who exactly were the men of the Arab Revolt is a complex question. The Arab forces would at times number as low as a few hundred and at other times as many as 30,000. 

This was at a time before an Arab nation-state existed. Many of the Arabs living in the middle-east were Bedouins — nomadic people living as individual tribes in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula.

Arab revolt with weapons
As the Arab Revolt became more successful, modern arms were supplied by the British, including the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield. Lawrence himself is depicted on the right.

The perfect force for guerilla warfare.

With a mix of horses and camels and armed with sub-standard but well-maintained equipment, the Bedouin forces conducted a 3-year long campaign against the Ottomans. They raided supply lines, destroyed train tracks, and assaulted Ottoman towns and encampments.

With the assistance of advisers like Lawrence, the Arabs were hugely successful and pioneers of guerilla tactics. 

In one action late in the war, Arab forces along with Lawrence attacked the village of Tafileh. They inflected over 1,000 Ottoman casualties at the loss of only 40 Arabs. 

At the onset of the revolt, the British and French governments promised to assist the Arabs in creating their own Arab nation-state after the war. A nation that both western governments would recognize.

In classic western fashion though — the British and French reneged on the deal.

Yes, England. You are.

However, even without the help and recognition of the west, the Arab revolt would unite the people of the peninsula. It would eventually lead to the formation of nearly every nation now in the middle-east. 

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures From History, click on over to our History Category.

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9 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Len Chelius

    I love history and it is even more interesting when it involves guns.

    May 10, 2021 6:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ed Endemano

    Love the SHORT synopsis. Thanks. Keep them coming.

    May 9, 2021 9:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kevin Standfield

    Love the historical tidbits! Would definitely like to see more. Our history is being forgotten!

    May 9, 2021 8:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeff

    Please keep cranking out Pictures From History! Great information and well written. Keep up the great work!

    May 9, 2021 5:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nick Machiavelli

    Good article. Perhaps the most important takeaway is the events described are the real deal and they happened a century ago and they shaped today’s dynamics in the Middle East. Want to understand the present? Know the past.

    May 8, 2021 6:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris

    This is a great feature. Looking forward to more.

    May 8, 2021 5:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joe

    Great article, great history lesson, needs to be kept alive, thanks.

    May 8, 2021 5:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    marc

    love the history...great job. those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    May 8, 2021 7:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike

    Another good history lesson . Keep them coming.

    May 7, 2021 3:24 pm
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