Despite Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi's reputation as hard-liner in radical Arab politics, he was generally taken a softer line toward internal dessent -- what little there ishere -- than other extreme Arab states.
"They don't kill as often or as quickly as the Iraqui's and are certainly not as brutal at quasing opposition," says one U.S. official.
Nevertheless, many of the officials in Qaddafi's circle have spent some time in prison or under a form of house arrest for real or imagined offenses during the last decade.
Libyan Oil Minister Ezzedin Mabruk was the most recent to face Qaddafi's wrath. Mabruk spent three weeks under modified house arrest last spring when Qaddafi learned that fuel supplies he had ordered delivered to Uganda's Idi Amin never arrived.
They errant oil minister, however, returned to favor in time for preparations for the June meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Others who have spent time in prison include Ali Ateega, Qaddafi's former planning minister, now secretary general of OPEC in Kuwait, and a number of the colonel's military colleagues, including one now recognized as being among his most trusted diplomats.
"they all have their wings clipped from time to time," says one analyst, adding, "Almost everyone here is a lackey, Qaddafi just doesn't stand criticiwm."
Qaddafi's concern for his own security, however, has resulted in increased surveilance efforts by the security police headed by Col. Yunis Bilquasim. There are also intelligence reports that Tripoli's security apparatus -- advised by Cuban and Eastern European states -- is now increasing its monitoring of the nearly 80,000 Libyans living abroad to ferret out coup attempts.
Nominally, Qaddafi has surrendered most of his official titles here, including his role on the five member secretariat of the General Peoples Congress, and is confining himself to revolutionary work.
In fact, however, Qaddafi and his small circle, including Staff Maj. Abdul Salaam Jalloud still are the center of power.
Others with whom Qaddafi spends a great deal of time include a nephew, Sayyed Quadhafadan, and Col. Hassan Ishkal, who acts as liaison with the intelligence networks. Few are univeristy graduates, and most of them are generally lacklustre, except for Jalloud who is seen as the pragmatist and daily decision-maker.
One observer with long experience here describes Qaddafi's rule saying, "Its tribal, its small with Qaddafi and his crowd moving like a medieval court -- its just Jalloud and the colonel." CAPTION: Picture, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, left, and his chief aide, Staff Maj. Abdul Salaam Jalloud, sit on dais before delegated to Libyan Peoples Congress in March. By Ergvu Cagatay -- Gamma