AMMAN, JORDAN, AUG. 7 -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein tonight angrily rejected foreign pressure for Iraqi forces to pull out of Kuwait, and in a bitter attack against the rule of royal families, appeared to set the stage for further assaults against conservative Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf.

Saddam vowed to "pluck out the eyes of those who attack the Arab nation," and declared that "we would rather die in dignity than live in humiliation, and vow to fight until death." He strongly defended his invasion of Kuwait as "necessary" to redress what he called the flawed regional borders drawn up by colonial powers that left a "corrupt minority" in control of some of the Arab world's richest territory.

The harsh attack, which a senior Jordanian official said left this neighboring monarchy "extremely worried," came as Jordan's foreign minister accused the United States of "upping the ante" in the tense region by sending military forces to Saudi Arabia.

In an indication that Saddam's message is finding support outside his country, diplomats coming here from Damascus said the popularity of his moves can be seen even in the streets of the capital of Syria, which is governed by a rival Baathist regime long hostile to Iraq.

In an urgent commentary tonight, Damascus radio called for an emergency Arab summit meeting and warned that Arab disputes should be settled within the Arab family, without foreign intervention.

Meanwhile, Iran, which ended an eight-year war with Iraq in 1988, today took an unexpectedly strong stand against the invasion of Kuwait, Reuter reported. Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati as saying, "We cannot accept any change in Kuwaiti borders, neither in land nor in water."

In Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, four other Arab states and the exiled government of Kuwait -- held emergency talks and called for Iraq to withdraw its troops immediately. Their statement did not mention the sanctions adopted Monday by the U.N. Security Council.

Jordanian authorities said today that they are preparing to receive an undetermined number of Americans that they expect to be evacuated overland from Iraq on Thursday.

The first commercial airliner to leave Baghdad since its airport was closed two days ago arrived here today with 74 Japanese, several Belgians, Italians and Spaniards, and 34 Iraqis.

There was no indication that the flight was part of an evacuation, however, and passengers said they had merely been in transit through Baghdad when the airport was shut down.

After Saddam's speech attacking the conservative governments of the gulf was read on Baghdad Radio today, the Kuwaiti provisional government installed by Iraq proclaimed itself "a republic like Iraq" and dissolved the rule of the exiled emir.

Saddam denounced the situation in which, he said, "the wealth of the nation lies in the hands of a minority of Arabs."

"This minority does not work for this wealth," he said, "it was there for them. This was unfortunately in the hands of the corrupt minority. Only through a struggle can the situation be rightfully restored and the wealth returned to the whole Arab nation."

Oblivious to the panic in other Arab capitals, Saddam seemed euphoric: "This is a new era with Iraq as the pride of the Arabs, a new period in which the sun will shine on us in the coming days."

A senior Jordanian official tonight said, "We are extremely concerned and extremely worried."

Jordanian officials close to the royal family here also cautioned that a war against Iraq would be "devastating and very costly to all of us."

The senior official said Jordan's King Hussein conferred with President Bush early this morning. The official said Hussein was the only leader who could still talk to both Bush and Saddam.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Qassem, who returned from Damascus tonight, was incredulous, however, when notified of the reports of the U.S. military move to Saudi Arabia.

"Someone is upping the ante, while we are doing our utmost to avoid the possibility of a military confrontation," he told The Washington Post. "Arab efforts for a solution or at least a contribution should be given a chance."

Iraq's ambassador to Greece, Abdel Fatah Khereji, said continuing pressure from the United States "escalates tension and hinders the withdrawal of the Iraqi troops from Kuwait."

In Cairo, Egyptian officials said they would rather see an Iraqi withdrawal through compromise and negotiations within the Arab League than by way of foreign invervention, but their increasingly harsh criticism of Saddam has been accompanied during the last two days by an almost fatalistic resignation that some sort of harsh retribution against Iraq by the international community is inevitable.

Referring to Saddam, one Egyptian official who in the immediate aftermath of the invasion had been reluctant to condemn Iraq publicly, said: "He thinks his war of eight years with Iran gives him the right to take Kuwait. He got a thousand times more money from the gulf states during that war than Egypt got during 30 years of war with Israel."

Jordanian Information Minister Ibrahim Ezzedine said today that Jordan would facilitate an expected evacuation across the desert from Baghdad to Jordan on Thursday of U.S. Embassy diplomatic staff members and their dependents.

The approximately 500 American citizens in Iraq were advised to leave and the U.S. Embassy in Amman is preparing to receive a dozen people affiliated with the embassy in Baghdad. Jordanian sources said Jordanian cars or buses would drive to the border and Jordanian officials would fly there to oversee the operation.

Asked about the extent of the Iraqi operation and responsiveness in securing a smooth journey -- an estimated 14 hours from Baghdad to Jordan -- one Jordanian official said, "Unfortunately, we are the only window to the Iraqis. There are contacts on many levels and many issues between us and this matter is one of them."

In London, however, the British Foreign Office reacted with skepticism to Jordanian reports that Iraq will open its border to allow thousands of foreigners to leave overland to Amman. British diplomats said the Jordanians told them that at most, Baghdad was preparing to allow some 2,000 British citizens who are residents of Iraq to leave.

That would still leave stranded thousands of Western citizens who were residents of Kuwait and who were trapped there when the Iraqi army invaded.

In Bonn, a West German Foreign Ministry spokesman said there was no sign from Iraq or Jordan that any of the several hundred foreign citizens taken to Baghdad from Kuwait were being authorized to depart.

British officials said it was not yet clear whether Saddam planned to hold any foreigners as a collective shield against Western military action. "We feel it would be inappropriate and very emotive to call them hostages," said an official who asked not to be identified.

But Kuwait's ambassador to London, Ghazi Rayes, said he fears Saddam is planning such a move. "Maybe he'll choose some to keep," Rayes told a press conference in London. "He can't of course afford to take five or ten thousand hostage. He'll choose 100, 200, 300 -- Europeans, Americans, any nationality he thinks is valuable."

Iraqi Ambassador Khereji said in Athens that no foreigners were being held hostage in either Iraq or Kuwait and any foreign nationals who wanted to leave were free to do so by land to Jordan or Turkey.

Besides the 10,000 to 20,000 Westerners living in Kuwait at the time of the invasion, Iraqi forces also are holding 34 British military advisers who were training the Kuwaiti army. They are among hundreds of foreigners who have been bused to Baghdad in recent days by the authorities.

Britain said its diplomats in Baghdad had been able to locate and visit the advisers and 58 other Britons being detained under a modified form of house arrest in Baghdad hotels.

The British Foreign Office disputed claims by the new Kuwaiti regime installed by Iraq that Kuwait is returning to normal. It said Western diplomats in Kuwait City reported that Iraqi military units were still heavily deployed throughout the capital and that conscripts were occupying suburban areas. The reports said security checkpoints and roadblocks were widespread and cited a "deterioration of law and order" in the city. The British officials gave no details.

Several thousand Kuwaitis were reported to be fleeing across the desert to Saudi Arabia in fear of more tension or fighting in their country. Many wealthy Kuwaitis reportedly had escaped with few belongings and were flocking across the Saudi border as the new refugees of the Middle East.

Washington Post correspondents Glenn Frankel in London and William Claiborne in Cairo and special correspondent Lamis Andoni in Amman contributed to this article.

Army Elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, including the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 24th Infantry Division (mechanized), Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Air Force First Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Va. 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C.* F-111 bombers on maneuvers in Turkey.

Navy

USS Eisenhower battle group was moving through the Suez Canal last night.

USS Saratoga battle group left the East Coast yesterday.

USS Independence battle group is in the region.

USS La Salle, command and control ship of Joint Task Force Middle East, is in the Persian Gulf.

*Available to U.S. Central Command

Elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, including the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 24th Infantry Division (mechanized), Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Air Force

First Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Va. 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C.* F-111 bombers on maneuvers in Turkey.

Navy

USS Eisenhower battle group was moving through the Suez Canal last night.

USS Saratoga battle group left the East Coast yesterday.

USS Independence battle group is in the region.

USS La Salle, command and control ship of Joint Task Force Middle East, is in the Persian Gulf. *Available to U.S. Central Command

Compiled by James Schwartz