Lawrence of Arabia .. Saudi Arabia celebrates the British intelligence officer who led the campaign against the Ottomans


In a move that mixed history with politics, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism announced that the house in which Lawrence of Arabia resided on the eve of his famous campaign in the desert is being prepared to be a landmark that attracts tourism.

Newspaper reported telegraph British in its coverage of the Saudi decision that Lieutenant Colonel T. Lawrence stayed for a short period in the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea during what was known as the “Great Arab Revolt” In 1916, the port became an important supply base for the British and Arab forces who fought the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

Despite calls by historians to protect the site, the two-story house in which Lawrence stayed, was in ruins, amid rumors among residents that the abandoned house was haunted by ghosts.

The mayor of Yanbu Ahmed Al-Mahout said that by the end of this year, the house may be ready for tourists to visit it, as part of a wider campaign for the Kingdom to attract more foreign visitors despite travel restrictions due to the Corona pandemic, according to what the British newspaper quoted.

“We have just finished the first phase of restoration,” Al-Muhtout added, believing that many foreign tourists would like to visit the home of the British intelligence officer.

During the Arab Revolt, Lawrence was dispatched to help local Bedouin tribesmen overthrow their Turkish rulers, who were allied with Germany against the British and French in World War I.

In his autobiography Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence noted that the Ottomans ’failure to capture Yanbu in December 1916 was crucial to the success of the entire Middle East campaign, writing,“ That night – I think – the Turks lost their war. ”

The British intelligence officer led attacks on the Ottoman Hejaz Railway and a campaign to control the city of Aqaba. Philip Neal, head of the TE Lawrence Association, said that Lawrence may have spent only days in Yanbu’s home, where he was “constantly moving”.

He added that other archaeological sites could also be developed in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, “There are still remains of trains lying in the desert that Lawrence detonated.”

And in Britain, Lawrence is commemorated in the crypt in St Paul’s Cathedral, with blue panels on his former homes in Oxford and London, and at sites in Dorset (southwest England), where he died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 46.

British Orientalists

In his book “The British Orientalists in the Twentieth Century”, the British researcher and Arabist Leslie McLaughlin, Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter, reviews examples of British Arabists, whom he knows as those segments of researchers, academics, travelers, diplomats, spies and historians who have drawn attention to the Arab region over the centuries, and they traveled there and learned Arabic In it, then they lived and wrote about its people, and in practice they established the history sciences and studies of the region in the West.

Among the most prominent of these is Lawrence of Arabia, who arrived in Damascus in 1917 with the British army, and the first thing he did was to visit the tomb of Saladin and remove a necklace of admiration that he had placed on the tomb of the German Emperor William II in his visit to the tomb, and he took it with him to Britain and it is still today in The British Military Museum with a note written by Lawrence says, “Saladin does not need it anymore.”

Lawrence had studied Arabic in Oxford at the hands of another famous Arabist, David George Hogarth, who was considered one of the most famous Arabized spies, and then he moved to Lebanon and studied Arabic at the hands of a Lebanese Christian schoolteacher, Mrs. Farida Akl, but many still doubted the extent of his mastery of Arabic. He responded to some Arabic letters to Prince Faisal in French.

The debate revolves around the truth about the role that Lawrence played in “directing” the revolution against the Turks, and historians believe that this role is exaggerated, and his assessments and consultations of the British Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill were not characterized by accuracy and depth, for example he had referred to Churchill in the recommendations A lengthy one raised it to him that Britain should pay close attention to what is happening in Yemen, and he explained that by saying, “Because where Yemen goes, the Arab world goes.”

The big trick

On the Atlantic publications for 2020, the book “How the West Stole Democracy from the Arabs? The Syrian Arab Conference of 1920 and Destroys the Liberal-Islamic Historical Alliance” by the American author and academic, Elizabeth Thompson, was recently published.

The author narrated the story of what was known as the Great Arab Revolt, and was exposed to what happened in October 1918 when Prince Faisal, the British intelligence officer Lawrence and the leaders of the Arabs of Damascus entered, and declared a constitutional government in an independent Greater Syria.

American historian Elizabeth Thompson considers the West responsible for the failure of democracy in the Arab world (communication sites)

In the following year, at the Paris Peace Conference, Faysal obtained the support of US President Wilson, who sent an American committee to Syria to investigate the political aspirations of its people, yet other Allied leaders in Paris – and later the San Remo conference – criticized Arab democracy, and considered it a threat to their colonial rule. .

On March 8, 1920, the Syrian Arab Congress declared independence and crowned Faisal as king with a “representative monarchy”. The cleric and Islamic thinker Rashid Rida supported this option and led the Constituent Assembly to achieve equality among all citizens – including non-Muslims – under full legitimacy of rights. According to the author.

But France and Britain refused to recognize the Damascus government, and instead imposed a mandate system on the Arab provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire, arguing that the Arabs were not yet ready for self-rule.

Under this mandate, the French invaded Syria in April 1920 and crushed the Arab government, and sent the leaders of the Syrian General Congress into exile. The fragile coalition formed by the coalition of “secular modernists and Islamic reformists” who might have established the first democracy in the Arab world, as he put it, was destroyed. the book.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here