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25/5/2017: King Abdullah II, the Supreme Commander of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army, attended a military exercise implemented by King Hussein bin Ali Brigade, on the occasion of the Kingdom’s 71 Independence Day.

The drill included field applications in fighting operations in urban zones using life ammunition with the support of the Royal Air Force jets. His Majesty praised the advanced level the personnel enjoy. (Source: Petra)

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King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Queen Rania of Jordan attended a gala dinner at the Laeken royal Palace on May 18, 2016 in Brussels. The Jordanian royals are on official two-day visit to Belgium.

Jordan’s king and queen both received the Leopold order while the king of Belgium wore the order of al-Hussein bin Ali. Queen Mathilde received the Supreme Order of the Renaissance. Queen Rania was dressed in a black and white dress, wearing a diamond bracelet as a bandeau in her hair. Queen Mathilde was sporting the base of the tiara of the nine provinces, a diamond and ruby bracelet and a new red gown. In his speech king Philippe paid tribute to ‘a great people and a befriended dynasty’ and referred to the mutual struggle of Belgium and Jordan against extremism.

October 16, 1916 - T.E. Lawrence Lands in Arabia

Pictured - A photo of Lawrence in 1915. He arrived at Jeddah with a British mission from Cairo on October 16, 1916. 

The Arab Revolt’s promising start in June 1916 had faltered by October. The Arab nationalist rebels, led by Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca and now the self-proclaimed King of the Hejaz, and his three sons, Ali, Abdullah and Faisal, had stormed most of the ports on the Red Sea, a large Ottoman garrison still held out in Medina, and had bloodily repulsed all Arab assaults. The first, brief victories had been to the liking of Ali’s irregular Bedouin tribesmen, but they did not have the heart for a long, drawn-out regular campaign.

Having helped to stir up the revolt, the British now decided to send help. Money, guns, and airplanes arrived to assist the Arab rebels, and on October 1916 so did a mission of military officers from Cairo. Among them was a young intelligence officer named Captain Thomas Edward Lawrence.

T.E. Lawrence was a Welsh-born archaeologist who had studied at Oxford and worked on several digs in the Middle East before the war. Thanks to his language skills and local knowledge, he was assigned to the Intelligence office in Cairo during the war. Along with a handful of other officers he landed in Jeddah on October 1916 as a aiding mission to the Arabs. Along with mortars and machine guns, the British sent a number of Ottoman POWs who were eager to join the revolt and would form the nucleus of a small, regular Arab army.

Lawrence met with Ali’s sons to help command their forces around Medina. Immediately he struck up a friendship with one of the sons, Feisal Ibn Hussein, who he judged to be “the leader with the necessary fire.” Their close friendship would have a great effect on the war in the desert and the post-war Middle East.

Faisal, King of Iraq from 1921 until his death in 1933. Born the third son of the Sharif of Mecca,  Hussein bin Ali, Faisal would come to international prominence during World War I for his involvement in the Arab Revolt and his association with T.E. Lawrence, who accompanied his army as a British advisor, and would himself gain fame as Lawrence of Arabia.

(Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

October 30, 1916 - Hussein bin Ali Proclaims himself King of the Hejaz

Pictured - Hussein bin Ali, Shariff of Mecca and now King of the Hejaz, was the nominal leader of the Arab Revolt, although his sons led his forces.

There were now over 30,000 Bedouin tribesmen and rebel Arab soldiers in open revolt against the Ottoman Empire. They had stormed Mecca, Taif, and the port of Jeddah that autumn, securing the region called the Hejaz, today the western portion of Saudi Arabia that borders the Red Sea. The leader of the revolt, the Sharif of Mecca Hussein bin Ali, now proclaimed himself King of the Hejaz on October 30, 1916.

Hussein’s rebellion had roots in a decade of Arab resentment after the Young Turks had come to power in the Ottoman Empire, proclaiming Turkish nationalism at the expense of the empire’s second-biggest population, the Arabs. With British and French collusion, Hussein’s sons had launched the revolt, but after their initial successes Arab enthusiasm started to wane and the more professional Ottoman troops succeeded in driving them south of the Medina, where both sides battled over control of the railroad. The arrival of a British advisory mission in October helped. The British, including a young captain named T.E. Lawrence, worked with Hussein’s sons and supplied cash, airplanes, and machine guns.

Hussein initially proclaimed himself King of the Arab countries in November, which embarrassed Britain, since it had secretly promised France that they could divide up parts of Arabia after the war. With some moderation and diplomacy, they convinced Hussein to limit his title to King of the Hejaz in October.