Arab Forces, 40,000
Emir Fei sal
Turkish Forces, 10,000
While the British troops were engaged with the Turks in Mesopotamia and Palestine, the Arabs seized the opportunity to throw off the hated Turkish yoke. Simultaneous uprisings took place in the Hedjaz district of Arabia. The leader in this revolt was Hussein-ibn-Ali, Grand Sherif of Mecca, and the most powerful prince of Western and Central Arabia. As hereditary keeper of the Holy Places and head of the tribe of the Prophet, he was regarded with reverence by the Arabs.
Hussein, on June 5, 1916, proclaimed the independence of Arabia at Mecca. The populace greeted the announcement with cheers, but the Turkish garrison rejected his summons to surrender, opening fire on the Great Mosque with heavy artillery. Rallying the loyal Arabs to his standard, Hussein overcame the resistance of the Turkish garrison, compelling their surrender on June 13, 1916, and taking 1100 prisoners.
Hussein-ibn-Ali, after the seizure of Mecca, divided his forces—horse, camel, and foot—into four columns. One party remained to guard Mecca; a second, under Emir Feisal, advanced toward Medina; a third, under Emir Abdullah, proceeded south toward Taif, and the fourth, under Emir Zeid, went westward to Jedda. The fires of revolt spread northward among the Arabs all the way to Damascus. Emir Nuri Shalan and the Said Idrissi of Asia joined forces with Hussein. In quick succession, the rebels seized the port of Kun- fidah, on the Red Sea, and Yambo, the port of Medina. Medina itself was besieged and a large section of the railway near El Ala was torn up, delaying the arrival of Turkish reinforcements from Damascus.
A pitched battle between the Turks and Arabs was fought in the plain south of Medina in August, the Turks losing 2,000 and the Arabs 500. Retreating to Medina, the Turkish soldiers wreaked vengeance on the inhabitants, many of whom they...