did a small army of Arabs defeat the Turks - the fourth largest army in
In 1916, the Ottoman Empire was weak but it controlled Syria, Palestine and much of the
The Turks were well-equipped, with modern weapons and engineering. They were expertly trained. On paper, the Arabs were no match for them
and the Arab Revolt ground to a halt. By June 1916 they
were looking for new ideas, and they needed supplies.
Step forward Captain T.E.
Lawrence, who liaised between Arab and British command and breathed new life
into the campaign, providing gold, guns and the much-needed new ideas.
He came up with the clandestine guerrilla warfare tactics that hit the Turks hard where they were most vulnerable
and won the war.
The Arabs fought as a coalition, they did not see themselves as a single nation but as
partners of convenience united in their determination to rid Arabia of the Ottomans. Tribes preferred to fight under their own Sheiks as individual warriors and as members of tribes.
But each tribe guarded their independence fiercely and quarrels were frequent, sometimes with
Prince Feisal, the leader of this fragile coalition, spent a lot of
his time resolving disputes and avoiding alienating tribal leaders. With good will, humor and tact he was able to maintain order and peace.
Raids - not a lost art
The Arabs who took up arms against the Turks in 1916 were the hardy desert dwellers from the
South - the Bedouins. They had been raiding their enemies for centuries, enriching
themselves at the expense of rival tribes.
Stealth and guile were central to their success, sneak night attacks being a favorite, but
when numbers favored them they would charge their enemy on camelback - a sight the Turks
||The Arabs had been raiding their
enemies for centuries