Wasp or Mosquito? The Arab Revolt in Turkish Military History

Edward J. Erickson

Abstract


This article presents the idea that the official Turkish military histories of the First World War are underutilized by western historians in assessing the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. In popular culture much of what many people believe to be true about the Arab Revolt comes from the work of Colonel T . E. Lawrence (famously known as Lawrence of Arabia). However, for historians, a larger issue arises from the fact the English language historiography of the Arab Revolt is derived almost entirely from non-Turkish and non-Arabic sources. Wasp or Mosquito? The Arab Revolt in Turkish Military History corrects that by examining the modern Turkish off icial histories. This article notes that the Ottoman and T urkish narrative asserts the Arab Revolt had a very limited effect on the war in the Middle East and that the Ottoman centre of gravity lay in the retention of Medina rather than in defeating the northern Arab armies associated with Lawrence. This article also identifies and compares the extant published Turkish official military histories with their British counterparts and informs the reader about some of the kinds of valuable and hitherto unknown information which may be found in the Turkish works.


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