In 1516, the Ottoman Caliphate’s forces conquered Mamluk territory. Agricultural villages in Transjordan witnessed a period of relative prosperity in the 16th century, but were later abandoned. Transjordan was of marginal importance to the Ottoman authorities. As a result, Ottoman presence was virtually absent and reduced to annual tax collection visits. More Arab Bedouin tribes moved into Transjordan from Syria and the Hejaz during the first three centuries of Ottoman rule, including the Adwan, the Bani Sakhr and the Howeitat. These tribes laid claims to different parts of the region, and with the absence of a meaningful Ottoman authority, Transjordan slid into a state of anarchy that continued till the 19th century. This led to a short-lived occupation by the Wahhabi forces (1803–1812), an ultra-orthodox Islamic movement that emerged in Najd (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). Ibrahim Pasha, son of the governor of the Egypt Eyalet under the request of the Ottoman sultan, rooted out the Wahhabis by 1818. In 1833 Ibrahim Pasha turned on the Ottomans and established his rule over the Levant. His oppressive policies led to the unsuccessful peasants’ revolt in Palestine in 1834. Transjordanian cities of Al-Salt and Al-Karak were destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha’s forces for harboring a peasants’ revolt leader. Egyptian rule was forcibly ended in 1841, with Ottoman rule restored.
Only after Ibrahim Pasha’s campaign did the Ottoman Empire try to solidify its presence in the Syria Vilayet, which Transjordan was part of. A series of tax and land reforms (Tanzimat) in 1864 brought some prosperity back to agriculture and to abandoned villages; the end of virtually autonomy predictably provoked a backlash in other areas of Transjordan. Muslim Circassians and Chechens, fleeing Russian persecution, sought refuge in the Levant. In Transjordan and with Ottoman support, Circassians first settled in the long-abandoned vicinity of Amman in 1867, and later in the surrounding villages. After having established its administration, conscription and heavy taxation policies by the Ottoman authorities led to revolts in the areas it controlled. Transjordan’s tribes in particular revolted during the Shoubak (1905) and the Karak Revolts (1910), which were brutally suppressed. The construction of the Hejaz Railway in 1908–stretching across the length of Transjordan and linking Mecca with Istanbul helped the population economically, as Transjordan became a stopover for pilgrims. However, increasing policies of Turkification and centralization adopted by the Ottoman Empire disenchanted the Arabs of the Levant.
Four centuries of stagnation during Ottoman rule came to an end during World War I by the 1916 Arab Revolt, driven by long-term resentment towards the Ottoman authorities and growing Arab nationalism. The revolt was led by Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and his sons Abdullah, Faisal and Ali, members of the Hashemite family of the Hejaz, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Locally, the revolt garnered the support of the Transjordanian tribes, including Bedouins, Circassians and Christians. The Allies of World War I, including Britain and France, whose imperial interests converged with the Arabist cause, offered support. The revolt started on 5 June 1916 from Medina and pushed northwards until the fighting reached Transjordan in the Battle of Aqaba on 6 July 1917. The revolt reached its climax when Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918, and established an Arab-led military administration in OETA East, later declared as the Arab Kingdom of Syria, both of which Transjordan was part of. During this period, the southernmost region of the country, including Ma’an and Aqaba, was also claimed by the neighboring Kingdom of Hejaz.