As Turkish nationalist factions grew in strength following the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, other ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire began to be sidelined. The Arabs, who constituted around 60 per cent of the Ottoman Empire’s population, were marginalized by new policies aimed at Turkification. The Arabs had traditionally lacked cohesion as a group, instead retaining stronger identity as Muslims or within tribes. British interests in the region aligned with the Arabs as the Ottomans were fighting on the side of the Germans. Assistance was promised to Sharif Hussein of Mecca who organized a revolt with a force of around 30,000 local tribesmen. The revolt began in Mecca on 10 June 1916, overseen by British advisors such as T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and pushed north along the Red Sea coast, reaching Aqaba by July 1917. Attacks on the Hejaz railroad were crucial in diverting Ottoman resources and assisted in cutting off Ottoman troops besieged in Medina.
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