Swept by rapid international change, Egypt is being propelled back to a leading Arab role despite its ties with Israel, diplomats and Egyptian analysts say.
The end of fighting between Iran and Iraq, a Palestinian bid for negotiated peace, superpower detente and the withering of the Arab "rejectionist front" have upset old calculations.Diplomats say King Hussein of Jordan, in Cairo on Wednesday for consultations with President Hosni Mubarak, is playing a pivotal mediating role between Syria and its once bitter rivals, Egypt and Iraq.
Reconciliation of Damascus and Cairo would remove a major obstacle to Egypt's complete return to the Arab fold.
"Egypt is returning to its traditional role of being big brother," said veteran Egyptian diplomat Tahseen Bashir, recalling the Arab image of a caring and protective elder brother.
A moderate Arab axis grouping Egypt, the most populous Arab state, with Iraq, Jordan and Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization is already in the making, diplomats say.
Arab diplomats say efforts are under way to get the Arab League's first regular summit since 1982 convened in Riyadh early next year with an end to Egypt's 1979 suspension from the League high on the agenda.
"It's now clear that Egypt will take part in any coming Arab summit," Mubarak's political adviser, Osama Baz, told reporters.
An unconditional welcome for Mubarak from such a gathering would amount to a revolution in Arab politics.
Damascus and Tripoli have both muted propaganda campaigns against Egypt, which has also stopped media attacks on Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.