With the start of the First World War in 1914, French military presence began to decline throughout the Taresh-Dafare as the army transferred forces and material support to areas deemed more critical to the outcome of the war. Most forces from the Taresh-Dafare, including the nearly 2000 French regulars stationed at Le Mur and another 800 from the coastal city of Abalta, were redeployed to take part in the 1914 invasion of the German protectorate of Togoland in West Africa.
The vast and sparsely populated Taresh-Dafare desert held no strategic importance to either side during the war, and thus by July of 1915 a paltry 20 French soldiers, was all that remained of France’s once formidable military presence in the colony. Those few soldiers that remained were housed in a barracks behind the Train Station at Le Mur.
Although, the Trans Taresh-Dafare railway and a few key cities such as le Mur, Abalta (western terminus of the railway), and Sihel (Eastern terminus of the railway) remained under direct French governance during the war years- limited resources and personnel forced the French to withdraw from the remainder of the Taresh-Dafare, which left an area of approximately two-million square miles, and populated by nearly 750,000 individuals, to their own devices.
Out of the power vacuum created by the withdrawal of the French Colonial government from 95% of the colony’s land area, during the period between 1914-1918 would emerge Henri Al-Jamil and the revolution of 1919.