Algeria, one of the last bastions of hope for a mediated solution to the 2 1/ 2-year-old Gulf war, has abandoned its efforts to secure a negotiated settlement between Iran and Iraq.
Algeria has made no public announcement of its decision to stop its mediation attempts. But senior Arab diplomats say that Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Talib Ibrahimi returned from visits to Tehran and Baghdad several weeks ago convinced that ''Ayatollah Khomeini is prepared to sacrifice any number of lives in order to obtain a military victory.''
Algerian officials are privately quoted as saying that Ayatollah Khomeini needs the Gulf war as a means of preventing Iran from disintegrating.
On Feb. 6 Iran demonstrated its determination to continue the war when it once again hurled thousands of Iranian troops and hundreds of tanks and armed personnel carriers across the Iranian border.
As fierce fighting continues, Iraq has been stepping up its call for Arab support, presenting the latest Iranian assault as a threat not only to Iraq but also to the whole region. Iraq's call for Arab aid may have an ironic side effect: the return of Egypt, castigated for its peace treaty with Israel, to the Arab fold.
Senior Iraqi officials are frequent and regular visitors to Cairo.
Two senior Egyptian officials - Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Butros Ghali and Osama al-Baz, President Hosni Mubarak's senior political adviser - paid a surprise visit last week to Baghdad - the venue of the 1978 Arab summit conference that decided to boycott Egypt for its continuation of the US-Israeli-Egyptian Camp David peace process.
Mr. Ghali and Mr. al-Baz traveled to Baghdad to brief Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on President Mubarak's discussions in Washington about the Gulf war with President Reagan.
Senior Egyptian officials say Iraq had asked Mr. Mubarak to pass on a number of requests to the Reagan administration. These requests are said to have included:
* US pressure on Western Europe and Israel to stop economic and military aid to Iran.
* More US political, economic, and military support for Iraq.