High Jordanian officials predicted yesterday that Arab moderates will dominate this week's Baghdad summit conference, prevent Egypts condemnation and win endorsement of a comprehensive peace approach as an alternative to the "unacceptable" U.S.-sponsored Camp David formula.
Explaining their unaccustomed optimism, these officials credited hard work by Jordan and Saudi Arabia in lining up solid moderate support and a major policy change in favor of moderation by once ultra-radical Iraq.
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud Faisal, made a similar statement Saturday when he said that the summit's aim is not to isolate Egypt from other Arabs.
But only the summit meeting itself starting Thursday - rather than the foreign ministers conference beginning Monday - will tell if the moderates' optimism is justified.
The Jordanian officials appeared so confident of success at Baghdad that they suggested that Jordan, Syria and possibly "representatives of the Palestinian people" would meet to work out details of the new diplomatic approach soon after the summit.Only a week ago the very holding of the summit was in doubt, they indicated.
King Hussein was expected to write President Carter - and inform the Baghdad summit - of his desire to keep the peace negotiation option open.
It was not immediately clear what form such an initiative would take - a return to the Geneva formula favored by Syria and the Soviet Union, a new plan involving U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim or some yet undisclosed approach.
But the officials stressed that even "an increasing number of Americans realize" the Camp David formula involving Jordanian participation in negotiations on the West Bank's future was "unacceptable."
The Camp David accords have "lost credibility" for anything but the return of the Israel-occupied Sinai to Egypt and "it is difficult to breathe life back into them," they added.
Hussein's insistence last month on pinning the United States down on the future of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights "had forced Washington to think about the issues and address the real problems," the sources said.
Such diplomatic language was translated in Jordanian newspaper comments by open congratulations to the king for having forced the current U.S.-Israeli showdown over Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
Despite the embarrassment caused Egypt by the new settlements squabble, anaylsts here suggested any delay in the Washington negotiations might prevent the Baghdad summit from openly stigmatizing Cairo.
Jordan also hopes the Baghdad summit will commit as much as $1 billion a year for the next decade to strengthen Jordan and help pay its army, according to informed sources.
Dependent for as much as 40 percent of its budget on foreign largesse, Jordan badly needs funding. The $300 million annual aid pledged by Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states at the Rabat summit conference in 1974 expires this year.
In any case, diplomatic sources doubted Jordan ever received much more than half the promised amount.
Moreover, Iraq, which long remained aloof from any Arab world cooperation, now could be expected to chip in, according to analysts. Irazq conceded as much in launching the summit invitations and suggesting a decade-long $9 billion fund to persuade Egypt to drop the Camp David accords and strength Arab world solidarity.
Iraq's new devotion to moderation is apparently sparked, analysts suggested by a desire to fill the vacuum now that Egypt has removed itself from Arab ranks. Throughout much of Arab history, Baghdad and Cairo have been rivals for Arab world leadership.
As last week's reconciliation meeting between Syrian President Hafez Assad and Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan Bakr indicated, the Baghdad authorities are willing to soft pedal once rigid demands that other states veto any peace negotiations with Israel.
In last month's Damascus summit meeting, Syria made sure its more radical partners in the "Front of Steadfastness and Confrontation" - Algeria, Libya, south Yemen and the Palestine Liberation Organization - left the negotiation open even while calling for torpedoing of the Camp David accords.
Now the moderates apparently believe Iraq is willing to go along with them.
They feel they have the votes and money to carry the day even if Libya's Muammar Qaddafi or other radicals walk out.
Indicative of the new mood was the announcement that Sudan, that Arab country most closely allied to Egypt, would ask the summit to "determine the positive aspects of the Camp David accords and abide by them as a preliminary step towards a just and durable peace."
That sounded remarkably like the American line of the Camp David accords and only weeks ago would have brought down an avalanche of criticism from even many Arab moderates.