OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
* Lebanon's patchwork peace is still holding together. Besides the July 24 cease-fire in southern Lebanon which stopped Israeli and Palestinian guns, an internal ceasefire among Lebanon's major factions and the Syrian forces stationed in the country also is holding.
Lebanese officials have been discouraged, however, in their attempts to arrange an early Arab summit conference to deal with the Lebanese situation. This year's summit is scheduled for November in Rabat, Morocco. Only Tunisia, North Yemen, and Libya support Lebanon in its call for an earlier meeting.
* Southern Lebanon, however, is getting greater Israeli scrutiny. Israel radio recently quoted senior sources in Jerusalem as saying Israel is considering a preemptive strike against Palestinians building up their forces in southern Lebanon. The sources indicated that during his visit to Washington this week, Prime Minister Menachem Begin would be asking US officials for their understanding in such an event.
The Lebanese government has begun installing the first of 10 British-built portable bridges in the south to replace those bombed out of Israeli jests in mid-July. The government also reports that during the 15 days of hostilities this summer, 503 Lebanese were killed and 1,334 wounded.
* The Syrian-Libyan merger celebrated its first anniversary recently with more rhetoric but few substantive moves to unite the two countries -- separated as much by style as by geography.
Col. Muammar Qaddafi recently called for greater military coordination between the two countries. But diplomats still believe Syria's Hafez Assad is deliberately dragging his feet because he sees Colonel Qaddafi as an eccentric. Diplomatic analysts say it way significant that Syria did not participate last month in the new pro-Soviet alliance between Libya, North Yemen, and Ethiopia.
* September marks another dubious first anniversary to the Middle East -- that of the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq says the war began with Iranian shelling of Iraqi border towns Sept. 4, But most diplomats feel the actual outbreak of hostilities should be dated from later in September, when Iraqi forces began crossing into Iranian territory.
Negotiated settlement of the conflict still is considered unlikely, until either a change of government in Iran or a major victory by either side.