Secretary of State James A. Baker III is under orders from President Bush to preach compromise to Arabs and Israelis in a Middle East tour that also includes talks on a new Persian Gulf security arrangement.

But even as he sets out, turmoil in Iraq and decisions taken by Arab nations on a permanent military force are complicating Baker's 10-day mission.Kurdish rebellion in north Iraq and Shiite opposition in the south to Saddam Hussein's rule pose problems for Baker's peacekeeping efforts.

Baker was flying to Saudi Arabia Thursday for talks with King Fahd and the foreign ministers of the six Persian Gulf states. Over three days, Baker will focus on ways to defend the oil-rich nations from the kind of threat that Iraq posed last summer.