"They look at Iraq and say, 'We could be next,' " said el-Kikihia. "And this scares the dickens out of them."
But ABCNEWS' George Stephanopoulos, who traveled to Tripoli to meet with Qaddafi, found the Libyan dictator still thinks America is to blame for strengthening al Qaeda and making Osama bin Laden "a prophet" in the Arab world.
To read excerpts from Stephanopoulos' interview with Qaddafi, click here.
"Col. Qaddafi clearly wants to reach out the West and get those sanctions lifted," said Stephanopoulos. "But he is also clearly angry at America for what they did to him in the past and what they're doing in the Middle East today."
Although Stephanopoulos asked Qaddafi several times about Lockerbie, Qaddafi evaded acknowledging responsibility.
Time to Switch From the Stick to the Carrot?
Whether Qaddafi broaches that divide remains to be seen.
"The ball is clearly in Libya's court," says Sullivan.
If Qaddafi were to issue a statement admitting responsibility for Lockerbie, Sullivan said, the United States would begin a dialogue with Libya that could lead to its removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, and the lifting of U.S. sanctions against the North African nation.
If that apology were to come, Mack said it would be wise for the United States to lift sanctions and establish a diplomatic dialogue.
"Libya can be an important ally in the war against terrorism," he said.
Deeb concurred. "If we continue using only the stick and never using the carrot, our stick then loses its power to change the behavior of states," she said.
El-Kikhia cautioned that while Qaddafi seems to build ties, that doesn't mean he's completely reformed.
"He has been in a box since 1986 and he is desperately trying to get out of this box," said el-Kikhia. "The Lockerbie [issue] is a shackle, and if the U.S. removes that shackle, it sets free a wiser monster."