MOSCOW, NOV. 8 -- President Mikhail Gorbachev's personal envoy on the Persian Gulf crisis was quoted today as saying Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might be avoiding a compromise over Kuwait because he fears that hard-liners in the West are determined to destroy his regime in any event.

Yevgeny Primakov, a member of Gorbachev's presidential council, raised the possibility of concluding a system of nonaggression pacts with Iraq as part of a comprehensive settlement of the crisis. He also suggested an Iraqi pullout from Kuwait should be followed by specific steps to address other regional issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Primakov's comments came in an interview with the weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta that provided the most detailed account yet of the way Soviet leaders would like to see the crisis resolved. Primakov, who has held two rounds of talks with Saddam over the past month, said he was convinced that a peaceful solution of the crisis remained possible.

"Saddam Hussein has what I would call a Masada complex," Primakov said, referring to the Dead Sea fortress whose Jewish defenders committed mass suicide to avoid capture by a besieging Roman force in the 1st century A.D.

"The defenders, understanding the hopelessness of their position, announced their willingness to die, but not to surrender," Primakov said. "As far as I could understand, Saddam Hussein is concerned about such questions as: Will not a blow fall on Iraq even if he withdraws his troops from Kuwait? Will economic sanctions be abolished if he withdraws his forces?"

In an apparent reference to hard-liners in the West, Primakov said Saddam's fears had been kindled by statements by "those who favor the military solution" calling for the liquidation of the Iraqi regime and even the possible dismemberment of Iraq.

He implied that a new security system in the Middle East would have to provide firm guarantees to both Iraq and its neighbors. He described Saddam's fears about a possible attack on his country as "the other side of the coin" to the concern of neighboring countries about Iraq's military potential.

Primakov, one of the Soviet Union's leading Arabists and a former Middle East correspondent for the Communist Party daily Pravda, is probably in a better position to judge Saddam's thinking than any other Soviet official. He is generally regarded here as more pro-Arab than Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, even though he insists that the Kremlin's hope of achieving a diplomatic breakthrough does not mean it is breaking ranks with the West.

In his interview with Literaturnaya Gazeta, Primakov repeated the official Kremlin position that Saddam should not be "rewarded" for his Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. At the same time, he said, an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait "must be followed by certain decisions designed to stabilize the situation in the region and satisfy the interests of many states."

The formula used by Primakov implied that the Kremlin sees some linkage between an eventual Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and the settlement of other problems in the Middle East. Foreign diplomats here have said they believe that Soviet peace-making efforts are based on an attempt to satisfy Saddam's insistence on linkage while allowing Washington to argue that any Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait must be unconditional.

Hinting at another possible concession to Saddam, Primakov said that practically no Arab leader was opposed to the idea of negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait on their economic and territorial disputes. He noted, however, that such talks could take place "only after the withdrawal of {Iraqi} forces."

The envoy said he had succeeded in persuading Saddam to allow a further 1,000 Soviet citizens to leave Iraq by the end of November, including 36 military experts earlier prevented by Baghdad from leaving. About 3,000 Soviets are still in Iraq, most of them economic specialists on long-term contracts.