AMMAN, JORDAN, AUG. 5 -- Behind Jordan's surprising but well-pondered defense of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his invasion of Kuwait lies what Jordanians say is a long-suppressed anger of ordinary Jordanians toward the wealthy Kuwaitis.

Jordanians for years have chided the Kuwaitis and other Persian Gulf Arabs for their popularly perceived extravagance and haughtiness toward their Arab cousins. In addition, many Jordanians blame the Kuwaitis and Saudis for supporting a policy of high oil production and low prices during the 1980s that crimped Arab oil revenues and sharply reduced the flow of remittances to poorer countries like Jordan and Egypt.

Jordan's King Hussein bluntly told CBS News today that the crux of the gulf crisis was "redrawing boundaries between the haves and the have-nots" in the area. Kuwait's per capita income in 1986 was $10,175, according to State Department figures; Jordan's was $1,530.

Jordanian Prime Minister Mudar Badran said Jordan would not recognize the military cabinet installed in Kuwait by the invading Iraqis, but both he and Hussein declined to comment on whether the exiled Kuwaiti royal family would be allowed to return to rule its oil sheikdom again.

"Jordan's recognition of the provisional government would obstruct Arab {mediation} efforts," Badran told a news conference. "Therefore, within the framework of these efforts we will not recognize a provisional effort."

Badran said cables from the Jordanian Embassy in Kuwait confirm that Iraqi tanks have started rolling out of the streets of the capital in what appears to be interpreted here as a phased withdrawal. Egypt and the United States, however, expressed skepticism over these reports.

Looking grim and fatigued, Hussein told CBS anchorman Dan Rather in an interview this afternoon that the opportunity for a comprehensive Arab summit, or even a mini-summit, to work out the Kuwaiti-Iraqi feud had been lost. Pressed on the question whether the summit had been canceled rather than postponed, the king replied, "Yes, I think so."

The Jordanian monarch said Arab efforts to defuse the Arab row would continue. But his foreign minister, Marwan Qassem, said Hussein had no visits to Arab capitals planned in the immediate future.

Diplomats and Jordanian analysts contended that Jordan, exposed as an Arab confrontation state by virtue of its long border with Israel and not-so-trustworthy relationship with Syria, had no other choice but to look toward Baghdad. "This is the only alternative. Iraq is the only viable partner {for Jordan} at this juncture," one Western diplomat commented.

Hussein is not in an enviable position. On one hand he has close ties to Saudi Arabia and needs Saudi assistance to service his foreign debt, estimated at $8.4 billion to $9 billion. Pushing him in the other direction are his military and political alliance with Saddam and the lack of public sympathy for Kuwait.

Jordanians, with rare exceptions among the elite and intelligentsia, say the Kuwaitis, who have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, have gone too far in shunning needy Arabs. "Yes, the Kuwaitis are demonstrating. They are demonstrating in the Riviera and in European capitals," commented one university professor, who said that what Kuwaitis spend as tourists could be used to feed the starving Sudanese.

There are 90,000 Jordanians working in Kuwait, including half of Jordan's skilled labor force living overseas. The workers, their families, plus 300,000 Palestinians, comprise a large portion of the 1.9 million people living in Kuwait.

Palestinians and Jordanians who credit themselves with building the infrastructure of modern-day Kuwait feel they will always be treated as second-rate citizens "who make money but who will always be strangers," said economist Fahed Fanek. He explained that members of these communities can never attain high management positions, power or political office.

"Kuwait is an apartheid country with 40 percent Kuwaiti and 60 percent other Arabs," Fanek said.

Kuwait has been one of the few countries to promise Jordan substantial aid this year -- a pledge of $135 million in aid. Iraq, by contrast, has pledged $50 million this year. And diplomats noted that Iraq owes Jordan $450 million for transportation facilities and deliveries via the port of Aqaba and for a road system improved during the 1980-88 war between Iraq and Iran. The Baghdad government has been repaying the debt with oil and other barter arrangements worth some $12 million a month.

Editorials in several Amman newsapers have already commented that the new Iraqi-backed provisional government in Kuwait would probably have no objection to delivering on Kuwait's $135 million pledge. In addition, Jordan sells fruit, vegetables and light industry worth an estimated $75 million a year to Kuwait, showing that Jordan's stake in Kuwait's recovery extends beyond jobs for its workers.

The Central Bank in Amman today authorized Kuwaitis to borrow Jordanian currency against their Kuwaiti money, to be paid back later on a 1-to-1 basis and with interest. But street vendors, taxi drivers and some economists here seemed to agree that "Arab oil is for all the Arabs and their charity begins at home."

"We have not hunted the bear yet to carve up its skin," Fanek chuckled, using an Arab proverb. He ridiculed the idea that Kuwait, Bahrain or others in the area are sovereign states "as a joke." Emboldened by Iraqi defiance of the United States, Jordanian newspaper editorials lashed out today at the United States with vitriol for its "greed" allegedly motivating its effort to protect threatened Arab regimes.

Columnist Tareq Masarweh wrote in ar-Rai: "Those fighting with the swords of the United States in the gulf are fighting with wooden swords, for the United States is not protecting the Arab but its oil interest."