Hard-line Arab leaders ended a summit meeting in Tripoli, Libya, today with a call for increased opposition to the United States and closer ties with the Soviet Union in an alliance directed against the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The summit decisions underlined the growing reliance of Syria, a key member of the hard-line group, on friendship with Moscow. Syria is apparently moving closer to the Soviet Union to counter its isolation from the major Arab powers since Egypt made peace with Israel and Iraq resumed its ideological feud with Damascus.
The two-day summit in the Libyan capital was timed to coincide with last week's visit to Washington by Egyptian Presidennt Anwar Sadat and the current talks there between President Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Designed to dramatize the hard-line Arabs' rejection of the Camp David peace process, it illustrated instead how their constant quarreling among themselves has effectively hampered their efforts.
Significantly, the final communique contained no reference to blocking oil exports to the United States and Western Europe in retaliation for their support of Israel. Libya's leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, had pressed Algeria's President Chadli Benjedid for a ban on shipments of Libyan and Algerian oil and gas, reports from Tripoli said. The Algerian, however, reportedly insisted he would agree only if other Arab oil exporters-including Saudi Arabia-did so.
Arab analysts generally consider the so-called oil weapon the only effective way to influence the United States and reduce its support of Israel. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has indicated a number of times that its oil policies are tied to U.S. Middle East positions. Yet it has not cut back production to influence Washington since the pan-Arab oil embargo was imposed after the 1973 Middle East war. That embargo was swiftly lifted.
Qaddafi also has maintained shipments of high-grade Libyan crude to the United States despite several threats to close down his pumps because of Washington's Middle East policies. A recent cutback in Libyan production was ascribed to slack market conditions rathher than politics.
The summit conference grouped members of the "Steadfastness and Confrontation Front," which was formed by Arab leaders in December 1977 in Tripoli to fight the movement toward peace raised by Sadat's startling trip to Jerusalem that November. The members are Syria, Libya, Algeria, South Yemen and the Palestinen Liberation Organization. Of the five, only Syria has played a major role in Arab wars against Israel.
The front's communique pointed out the key Syrian role in the Arab confrontation with Israel now that Egypt is trying to make peace with Israel. It reiterated earlier decisions to form a joint military command under a Syrian officer and announced formation of a joint military force to be stationed in Syria under Syrian command.
The front leaders -- Syrian President Hafez Assad, Qaddafi, Benjedid, South Yemeni President Abdul Fatah Ismail and PLO chief Yasser Arafat -- also decided to carry out earlier appeals for a joint political command of their foreign ministers and a joint information committee to wage a propaganda war against Israel and Egypt.
In addition, they called on King Hussein of Jordan to open his borders for guerrilla raids on Israel and urged all Arab countries to reinforce the boycott called soon after Sadat agreed on the peace treaty with Begin.
These measures were expected to have little practical effect, however. Except for the joint military force, all had been decided in earlier meetings of the front leaders but never carried out.
Attention thus centered on the call for closer relations with the Soviet Union and announcement that Qaddafi will soon travel to Moscow to seek Soviet support for the front. All five members already enjoy close relations with the Kremlin. The call for more ties was seen as an appeal to Moscow to back the front more strongly, particularly in arming Syria.
Assad has drawn steadily closer to the Soviet Union since Arab cooperation in opposition to the Camp David treaty was compromised by Syria's renewed quarrel with Iraq.
The two neighbors are ruled by rival wings of the Arab Baath Socialist Party and have been locked in a bitter and often bloody dispute about which government is carrying out authentic Baathist doctrine. In the face of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Assad and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made a major effort to bury their differences, giving rise to hopes in the Arab world of a united pan-Arab front. Last fall, however, Iraq charged that Syria was behind a plot to topple Hussein.
Back in step, Assad used the summit conference forum yesterday to accuse Iraq of complicity in current unrest in major Syrian cities. His complaint, aside from underlining the renewed quarrel, also drew attention to Syria's lonely position confronting Israel with only the PLO, South Yemen, Libya and Algeria as active allies.