-Iraq, regarded as the Arab world's odd man out, has organized broad support from moderate as well as radical Arab states for a summit meeting Nov. 1 in Baghdad to counter the Camp David accords.
Within a week of Iraq's summit proposal, 17 Arab countries and the Palestine Laberation Organization were on record as favoring the meeting, designed to stop Egypt from concluding a separate peace treaty with Israel.
Even Iraq's arch-rival Syria has now agreed to attend, which means that the military strongest states lined up against Egyptian President Anwar Sadat are to be joined by the moderate Persian Gulf states that bankroll much of the Arab world. As recently as a month ago, Syria could not pull together such a wide-ranging spectrum of countries for its own meeting of anti-Sadat states.
The rare agreement by such a wide-range of nations in the Arab world seems to be a measure of the desperation in Arab ranks as Sadat moves forward with separate peace talks.
Syria remains the major power firmly lined up against Sadat and any summit without the participation of President Hafez Assad would stand little chance of deciding on effective action. Previously the bitter Iraqi-Syria feud had kept the two countries from adopting a common line against the Egyptian moves.
The suspicious that moderate Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, hold toward the more radical governments have kept them out of pan-Arab forums organized by the radicals in the past.
Sadat is clearly determined to accelerate separate peace negotiations, as demonstrated by his rebuff of an Iraqi offer of a $9 billion pan-Arab aid program. And the Arab world is so disoriented by the Camp David agreements that a number of seemingly strange reconciliations have takes place in recent weeks.
Despite his membership in the Syrian-led Steadfastness and Confrontation Front, PLO leader Yasser Arafat cautiously welcome the Iraqi initiative. In recent months, the PLO and Iraq have been at loggerheads, with the guerrila leadership accusing Iraq of responsibility in the assassination of several leading PLO figures considered moderates closely associated with Arafat.
In another unusual reconciliation, Syrian President Hafez Assad publicly embraced his longtime enemy George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, at the summit meeting in Damascus last month.
In a similar vein, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and Arafat met with King Hussein of Jordan, long a favorite target for insults and subversion.
But even taken at face value, Iraq's desire to end its long isolation from Arab moderates and radicals would not appear to end Syrian doubts about Iraq's intentions.
Such are the accumulated grievances between the two countries that Syria's reply to Iraq's invitation said nothing about the offer to station Iraqi troops on Syrian soil.
Yet, without the full cooperation of Iraq's 160,000-man, largely Soviet-equipped army, military analysts write off the combat effectiveness of the Arab eastern front now that Egypt has opted out of the military equation.
Only last week in Damascus witnesses watched Syrians attack half a dozen Iraqi Embassy vehicles, bayoneting their tires and hitting the roofs with crowbars. The Iraqi ambassador's white Jaguar was spared.
The Iraqi-Syrian border has been closed for more than a month and ordinary Iraqis or Syrians are not allowed to visit each other's country.
The potentially most important aspect of the Iraqi initiative was its omission of standard demands that Damascus reject any peace negotiations with Israel. Syrian refusal of that demand caused the Iraqis to storm out of the first anti-Sadat summit conference in Tripoli.