The split between Egypt and the rest of the Arab world deepened yesterday as the Cairo-based Arab League announced it would hold its meetings elsewhere and Egypt pressed ahead with work on a peace treaty with Israeli.
For the time being, at least, Egypt stands virtually alone, having spurned an appeal from the other Arabs to abandon its drive for peace with Israel.
In their public statements, the Egyptians are defiant of the other Arabs and contemptuous of the summit conference at Baghdad that ended Sunday wi*th unanimous condemnation of Egypt's peace campaign and agreement of financial support for the countries still confronting Israel. Nevertheless, there is a good deal of private concern among Egyptian officials about the course of events.
Their belief that moderate Arab states would fall into line behind Egypt after they had a chance to study the Camp David agreements has not been borne out and Eyptians are uncomfortable at the gap that has opened between Cairo and rest of the Arab world.
Ostracism of one Arab leader by the others is not unprecedented, and the most significant target of such a campaign - King Hussein of Jordan after his assault on the Palestinian guerrillas in "Black September" in 1970 - has survived nicely. Egyptians questioned whether the apparent unanimity among President Anwar Sadat's critics which has made overnight allies out of old enemies, would have any real impact on this country.
The official communique of the Baghdad summit was relatively mild, indicating that the conservative, pro-Western states had held out successfully agianst the anti-Sadat radicals like Libya and Algeria. But some Egyptians, reportedly including Sadat, are concerned about possible secret agreements that would lead Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to reduce or cut off their financial support.
If they did that, it would cause economic hardship here, but there is no reason to think that such a move, or any other result of the Baghdad summit, is going to deter Sadat.
Members of the Egyptian team at the Washington peace negotiations with Israel continued their consultations here yesterday. They are expected to return to Washington soon to complete work on the peace agreement.
They have been instructed by Sadat to insist that the agreement between Egypt and Israel be clearly tied to the evolution of Palestinian autonomy and the end of Israeli military rule on the occupied West Bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza Strip. That is Egypt's defense against Arab charges that it has abandoned the Palestinians and accepted a bilateral settlement.
Mahmoud Riad, the secretary general of Arab League, told reporters on his return from Baghdad that League meetings would be held in other Arab capitals on a rotating basis until Egypt "returns to the Arab camp."
After the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian treaty, he said, Arab foreign ministers would decide on a "temporary" removal of the League's headquarters to some other country because "the Arabs have decided it would not be logical to keep the League headquarters in Egypt where there will be an Israeli embassy."
Riad, a former Egyptian foreign minister, has been criticized by the Cairo press for participating in the Baghdad summit, which was not under Arab League auspices. He did not mention the fact that the charter of the Arab League, adopted in 1945, stipulates that its headquarters be in Cairo - a reflection of Egypt's political and cultural dominane in the Arab world which continue despite the hostility of other Arab governments.
Although Egypt relies on assistance from Arab oil states to keep its economy afloat, it is not likely to suffer any permanent damage from anything the other Arab states right to do it. As the first modern Arab nation and still the biggest, most powerful and most sophisticated, it supplies, teachers, doctors, administrators and skilled laborers to others that were still colonial backwater until recent years.
Egypt is self-suficient in oil, controls the Suez Canal, and has minimal trade relations with the other Arab countries.
As if to show who needs who more, the semi-official Cairo newspaper Al Ahram reported yesterday that Egypt would no longer admit students from South Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Algeria or Libya to its universities.
Cairo newspspers vied with each other yesterday to heap the most redicule and scorn on the Baghdad summit conference and its participants.
In a typical commentary, Al Akhbar said that "all this conference achieved was to give support funds to Syria - funds it will not expend in wor against Israel but against the people of Lebanon . . ."