More than a week after the United States air strike on Libya, its impact inside that country and on its neighbors is coming more clearly into focus. Growing repercussions in the Arab world are already adversely affecting US interests, analysts say. And despite European Community measures against Libyan diplomats decided upon Monday, the Western alliance appears seriously divided.
The April 15 US action succeeded neither in killing nor in overthrowing Col. Muammar Qaddafi. No Libyans and few foreign diplomats and newsmen this reporter spoke to doubt that these were the aims. US officials deny this and say that the raid was intended to punish Libya for its alleged support of terrorism.
The next logical US effort, many in Libya believe, would be a covert assassination or coup attempt by US or US-supported forces. It would presumably be masked as a Libyan venture, they speculate.
Expected revolts or uprisings do not seem to have taken place. In fact, forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi helped spirit him to safety outside Tripoli after the strike. The colonel has avoided public appearances since then, apparently fearing a new US attempt on his life.
Some analysts discounted press reports yesterday that suggested Qaddafi's control was slipping. The Times (London) reported yesterday that Qaddafi was now serving as nominal leader of a five-man junta. The report said that ``the formation of a new collective leadership . . . may well have been taken to prevent the possibility of a coup.'' The junta members it named included Qaddafi's deputy, deputy chief of staff, inspector-general, and Army commander in chief.