Why Hussein wants Saudi backing
King Hussein of Jordan says Saudi Arabia's ''negative posture'' complicates his decision whether or not to enter into peace negotiations with Israel based on President Reagan's Sept. 1 Middle East peace proposals.
The Jordanian monarch is quoted by officials of the European Common Market as telling West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher last week that Saudi Arabia ''is not particularly helpful.''
Lebanese government officials are reported to have voiced similar complaints in their contacts with the European Common Market. Saudi Arabia recently banned the import of Lebanese goods, fearing Israeli products may slip into the kingdom via Lebanon.
Egyptian officials say they have been urging Saudi Arabia, without success, to clarify its views on both Jordanian participation in Middle East peace talks and Lebanon's negotiating position in the troop withdrawal talks with Israel.
King Hussein, according to European sources, told his West German and British hosts that he could envision a beginning of Middle East peace talks parallel to the negotiations on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon. Earlier King Hussein had demanded a complete pullback of Israeli forces from Lebanon as a precondition for his participation in peace talks.
The monarch is said to have urged the Europeans to push for US pressure on Israel to make a move that he could present as a freeze on Israeli settlement activity on the West Bank. Such a move, the monarch is said to believe, would swing Saudi Arabian support in favor of a Jordanian negotiating role.
Egyptian officials stress that Saudi financial muscle is not sufficient for the kingdom to impose its will on the rest of the Arab world. They say that Syria's bargaining chips allow it to block political developments which are not to its liking.
Both Egyptian and Gulf officials say that Syria relies heavily on its control of the radical wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its support of Iran in the 21/2-year-old Gulf war.
''Without these two cards Syria would have no bargaining position whatsoever, '' a senior Egyptian official told the Monitor.
Attempts by the Gulf states to persuade Syria to convince Iran of the need to end the Gulf war have so far been rejected by President Hafez al-Assad.
Egyptian officials charge that Syria has also been blocking Egypt's return to the Arab fold.
Officials in the Gulf and Egypt list Syrian policy aims as:
* Stabilization of President Assad's domestic position. Syria is reported to be demanding an end to Saudi support of the Muslim Brotherhood which opposes the Baath regime in Damascus.
* Arab support for the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. ''Without the Arabs, Syria has no bargaining power whatsoever in negotiations with Israel,'' according to a senior diplomat in the Gulf.
* Syrian influence in Lebanon. Egyptian officials accuse Syria of complicating the withdrawal talks by claiming that it has no control over the Palestinians in parts of Lebanon under Syrian occupation.
''The neutralization of Syria's bargaining chips is a precondition for a Jordanian move because Jordan's King Hussein will not plunge into negotiations with Israel without Saudi backing,'' a close aide of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said.
Saudi Arabia is still hoping that Algeria may be able to mediate an end to the Gulf war, thereby robbing Syria of one of its bargaining chips.
But Algerian diplomats say they have little hope that their quiet diplomacy will result in the needed quick success.
''The problem is,'' said a senior Egyptian spokesman, ''that we are about to waste a historic opportunity for peace in the Middle East partially because Saudi Arabia is not ready to take a firm stand against Syria.''