CAIRO, AUG. 5 -- While publicly maintaining a cautious, low-key response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak appears willing to consider tougher measures if there are no prompt, clear signs of an Iraqi pullback, diplomats and political analysts said here today.

Egypt's stance reflects Mubarak's hope that an Arab summit meeting eventually can thrash out a compromise that would give Iraqi President Saddam Hussein some of what he was demanding before his troops rolled across the border and still be acceptable to the deposed emir of Kuwait, the diplomats and analysts said.

Mubarak remained secluded in his summer palace in Alexandria, giving no hint that he was considering support for punitive steps against Iraq that much of the Western world was pursuing.

Mubarak "seems to want to give {Saddam} some time to agree {to withdraw} without precipitating anything drastic," said a foreign official. But he added that after that time, Mubarak would be receptive to tougher steps to contain the Iraqi leader.

{In Washington, a military official said Egypt had canceled some leaves and was mobilizing some units to be available should Saudi Arabia request them.}

The Egyptian leader's few public reactions to the invasion have struck some Western diplomats as restrained for an Arab leader who has cultivated Egypt's reputation as an island of moderation in a volatile Arab world.

Although Egypt backed resolutions approved by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemning the Iraqi invasion, Mubarak was silent for 30 hours following the invasion before making his first statement, and even then it was not what might have been expected from a man who only a week before had told reporters -- upon his return from a Middle East peace shuttle -- that Saddam "has no intention of moving his troops toward Kuwait."

Even today, when there appeared to be little evidence that Iraq was fulfilling its promise to begin withdrawing its troops by 8 a.m. Kuwait time, Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel-Meguid said, "If the pullout started, it will be a good sign that we hope will continue until this nightmare is over."

There were reports from Kuwait that instead of withdrawing, some armored columns and troops among the 100,000-strong Iraqi force that had been deployed along the sea front were heading south overnight. Moreover, Baghdad radio announced that Saddam had ordered the activation of reserves to form 11 new divisions: one armored and nine infantry and mechanized divisions and one presidential guard division.

Also reacting cautiously to Iraq's stridency -- for different reasons -- has been Jordan's King Hussein, who teamed with Mubarak in regional diplomacy talks before the breakdown of Iraq-Kuwait talks and Thursday's invasion. The Jordanian monarch has called the Arab League resolution "premature" and expressed sympathy with Saddam's position.

Arab and Western analysts here said that there are several factors that might explain Mubarak's reticence in the face of calls for broad punitive sanctions against Iraq by the United States, which provides Egypt with over $2 billion a year in military and economic aid.

There are approximately 1 million Egyptian contract workers in Iraq and another 300,000 in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, and Mubarak may be fearful of putting them in jeopardy by issuing bellicose statements about the invasion. The new Iraqi-installed government in Kuwait today warned countries with nationals there not to participate in sanctions against either Iraq or Kuwait, hinting broadly that harm might befall the expatriates.

But a broader consideration, according to analysts and diplomats here, is that Mubarak may be reluctant to provoke Saddam out of fear that it would preclude the possibility of any negotiated compromise leading to a withdrawal of the Iraqi troops.

In the Arab historical context of clinging to ostensible -- if not real -- solidarity among fraternal nations, the Arab League's condemnation of Iraq, even with six of the 19 foreign ministry delegations in attendance abstaining, is a serious step, the analysts stressed.

It was the first time the league condemned a member state on such a controversial issue and, significantly, it did so on the basis of a consensus after dispensing with the usual requirement for unanimity.

The abstaining delegations were Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, Djibouti, and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Because it was the object of the resolution, Iraq could not vote, and Libya was not present.

Subsequent attempts to hold an Arab League summit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, this weekend collapsed after the Arab heads of state consulted informally and failed to reach a prearranged agreement, which is the usual requisite for any Arab League summit.

Also undermining the chances of a summit now was an agreement by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to launch an independent "peace initiative," although it appears now that the proposed summit was already a dead issue Friday night before Arafat took the PLO-Libya peace proposals to Mubarak.

Mubarak is said to believe firmly that there still can be at least a mini-summit on the Iraq-Kuwait crisis at which a compromise is possible, but that it must take place in the context of most of the substantive agreements already having been worked out beforehand.

These would include, some analysts said, meeting many of the demands issued by Saddam Hussein before negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait collapsed.

Saddam at the time was demanding reductions in Kuwaiti oil production, $2.5 billion in compensation for oil produced in disputed border territory, forgiveness of upwards of $20 billion in debt, and sovereignty over the Bubiyan and Warba islands at the northern tip of the gulf -- where Iraq reportedly would like to build a port and oil terminal.