The 125th anniversary of the birth of British legend T.E. Lawrence this week hearkens back to a time one century before the Arab Spring, where an earlier uprising in Middle Eastern history erupted, known as the Arab Revolt.
Thomas Edward Lawrence, born in Wales in 1888, was recruited at the beginning of the First World War to stir up a revolt against the Ottoman Empire in Arabia.
On his 125th birth anniversary, Lawrence’s Middle Eastern conquests have been remembered in dedicated coverage from Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
During his time in the region, Lawrence became well known for his integration into Arab culture, speaking the language and adopting traditional Bedouin clothing, according to Lawrence’s autobiographical account of his experiences in Arabia, named the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” the newspaper reported.
He had an instrumental role in turning Arab Bedouin tribes into a powerful guerrilla army against the Turks, having a role in the captures of Aqaba, a Jordanian town, and Damascus.
“Lawrence's part in the Sinai/Palestine campaign - in particular the Arab Revolt against their Turkish overlords, which took place from 1917 to 1918 - is well known. His guerrilla campaigns behind enemy lines and, in particular, his capture of Aqaba are the stuff of legend,” wrote the BBC’s Phil Carradice in a look back at Lawrence’s life.
“But with peace came the inevitable betrayal of the Arab nations that Lawrence loved and, disenchanted by British Imperial designs, he left the Middle East to return home,” Carradice added.
With the war over and the Ottoman Empire in ruins, Lawrence returned to the UK, presenting his views on the region to the British government.
Lawrence appeared to never forget his adventures with the Bedouins, and continued to be an advocate for their wellbeing, according to U.S.-based Cliohistory.org.
He once summed up his attitude to life when he famously wrote: "All men dream: but not equally ... the dreamers of the day are dangerous men for they may act on their dreams, to make them possible. This I did."
According to the newspaper, in a private audience with King George V, Lawrence refused to accept the insignia of the awards he had received, stating that Britain did not keep their promises to the Arabs – now that the war was over, the Middle East was considered of little strategic importance.
A life-long lover of motorcycling, Lawrence died after a motorcycle accident in Dorset in 1935 at the age of 46, according to the BBC.