The government of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi appears to be considering major organizational and possibly some political changes following the American air raids here 12 days ago.
Officials here said they expect new appointments in several ministries and a general reevaluation of the way the Libyan government operates.
They declined to offer specifics, but an editorial in the official weekly newspaper Jamahiriya yesterday, driving home the need for change, warned that Libya has "reached the point where it has to put its house in order."
"We have to reexamine ourselves to see how we were behaving hour by hour during the crisis, who was confused, who panicked, who made mistakes, who ran away and who stood firm," it concluded.
The editorial directed its sharpest and most specific criticism at the Libyan Information Ministry and the mass media it controls here.
"We do not need broadcasters who are going to say to us the enemy planes were falling like yellow leaves in autumn," the editorial chided, openly implying doubts about the official claims that Libya's military shot down 28 American planes instead of the one acknowledged by Washington.
One European diplomat noted today that the author of the editorial, Sayed Qaddafadam, is a cousin of Qaddafi. Once a frequent contributor, his work has not been seen in the newspapers for the past five months, ever since the murder of another influential Qaddafi aide and relative, Hassan Ishkal, sowed the seeds of what appears to be a family feud. Qaddafadam is said to be a close cousin of Ishkal.
Diplomats now generally believe that Ishkal was killed by members of the radical Revolutionary Committee who usually answer to Qaddafi's number two man, Abdul Salaam Jalloud.
A ranking Army officer and former military governor of Qaddafi's home province, Sirte, Ishkal was considered an advocate of more moderate economic policies and a slower revolutionary pace than Jalloud wanted to allow. He may also have been among those officers who wanted to discourage the kind of terrorist activities that provoked the U.S. bombing in the first place.
The appearance of Qaddafadam's editorial "would seem to mean a regrouping of the leading people behind Qaddafi," said one well-informed European diplomat, suggesting that the divisions in the ruling group that followed Ishkal's death may have been overcome.
All this is taking place against a background of continuing speculation and rumor about the extent of unrest and internal clashes unleashed by the American attack.
For years, frictions have been evident between the regular Army and the Revolutionary Committees. There was considerable theorizing and some information released in Washington suggesting that the bombing may, in fact, have been intended to provoke a showdown between the Army and Revolutionary Committees.
This does not appear to have taken place, but there are a number of unexplained incidents that suggest at least some Army units clashed openly with other government forces.
A persistent story that some diplomats say they now believe suggests that there was a rebellion by military units at the town of Tarhunah, not far from the capital. Another account goes so far as to suggest that a column of rebellious troops moving on the capital from a base at Tajura, east of the capital, was bombed by the Libyan Air Force.
None of these stories, however, has been substantiated.
Few diplomatic sources now give any credence to a British newspaper report earlier in the week that the Soviets, Libya's largest arms suppliers and an increasingly influential force here, had forced the formation of a ruling junta of which Qaddafi was said to be only a member.
One East European analyst with extensive experience here said he thought the Jamahiriya editorial, far from indicating a weakening of Qaddafi's grip on power, suggested that both he and Jalloud may now feel confident enough of their positions to allow a certain degree of criticism.
While some diplomats persist in their belief that the Army has emerged in a stronger position following the raid, much of the Jamahiriya editorial implied sharp criticism of the regular Army.
Clearly, the performance of the Libyan military in combating the American raid this month and in the clash with the U.S. 6th Fleet over the Gulf of Sidra in March was disastrous.
According to European diplomats, disciplinary measures are being taken against units that did not do their jobs -- firemen who did not answer their calls, antiaircraft batteries that did not fire until 10 minutes after the American jets struck and were already returning to base.
According to one report, as many as 2,000 Libyan soldiers may have left their posts during the Sidra clashes and some senior officers are believed to have evacuated their families from possible target areas.
But almost as closely as they are watching rumors concerning the military, diplomats are looking for a major change in the management of Libya's economy, battered by plunging oil prices and unsuccessful revolutionary policies.
Petroleum revenues have dropped drastically. Shortages are serious, with shelves empty in the once well-stocked supermarkets, many stores shut down and long lines forming in the streets for almost any basic commodity that comes on the market.
Several diplomats have said in recent days that they expect the return of limited private enterprise as a way of breathing life into the economy.
"If you see private shops starting to open up again," said one Asian diplomat, "that will mean there have been some real changes."
Whatever happens, however, it is clear that the Libyans do not want it taking place under the spotlight of international publicity. Of almost 300 journalists here early in the week, only a handful were left this afternoon after the government began trying to push them out on Wednesday. Those who remain are being told by Information Ministry officials to leave by Sunday.
One senior Information Ministry official said that so much is going on internally in his ministry and the government that no one has any time to deal with foreign reporters.