Wives of 24 Arab ambassadors here and at the United Nations aren't pretending they had any direct influence upon what happened to Alexander M. Haig Jr., but indirectly they may have played a role in shaping opinions that led to President Reagan's acceptance of his resignation as secretary of state.
The three-week-old Arab Women's Council, which includes other Arab and Arab-American women in addition to the ambassadors' wives, dispatched Nouha Alhegelan to the White House for a private meeting with Nancy Reagan a week before Haig's resignation. Alhegelan is the council's president and wife of Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal Alhegelan. Her assignment: To "humanize" casualties in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
With National Security Adviser William Clark sitting in (he later would have his own meeting on the subject with Ambassador Alhegelan, which reportedly infuriated Haig), the Lebanese-born diplomatic wife described the civilian victims in the fighting, "the elderly, the children, the women--the people who died and the people who didn't," she said yesterday.
"I also told her that $38 million in U.S. government and Red Cross aid--medicine, blood and other supplies--isn't getting through because the Israelis have blocked it," Alhegelan said. "Mrs. Reagan was shocked."
Mrs. Reagan was also visibly moved, said Mrs. Alhegelan, in the 40-minute meeting they had in the Reagans' White House family quarters. Alhegelan did not know if the first lady also was moved to telling President Reagan about the visit later, but reports are that he, too, was "appalled" by the bloodshed in the three-week Israeli campaign.
The wives of Arab ambassadors also are arranging individual meetings with congressional wives whose husbands serve on Senate and House foreign relations groups. In addition, the council is staging a nightly silent vigil outside the White House until Friday, as well as supervising direct mail and media advertising campaigns.
"Every woman has committed her own embassy to doing something," says Hola Maksoud, executive director of the council.