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Osvaldo Croci

Since the mid-1980s Italy’s relations with the United States (US)

have been characterised by occasional periods of tension, usually

following some unilateral American initiative in the Mediterranean.

At the beginning of 1999 it seemed that the two countries

were again on a collision course. The US was uneasy about Italian

diplomatic overtures to Iran and Libya. Italy, for its part, ignored

American advice that it extradite Kurdish nationalist leader Ocalan

to Turkey where he was wanted for terrorist activities, and it

repeatedly and publicly expressed strong reservations about the

rationale and effectiveness of the periodic Anglo-American bombing

of Iraq. Then, in early March, came the verdict of an American

military court acquitting the pilot responsible for the Cermis accident

of February 1998. The Italian government, backed by practically

the whole of parliament, reacted by calling for a review and

possible re-negotiation of the treaty regulating the use of NATO’s

military bases in Italy.

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Osvaldo Croci

The military intervention in Iraq by the United States (US), supported

militarily by Great Britain and politically by a “coalition of the willing,”

which included a large number of current and future European

Union (EU) members but not Germany and France, was undoubtedly

the major foreign policy event of the year. It generated much debate

on concepts such as immediate threat, pre-emptive war, unilateralism,

and multilateralism, as well as on the question of whether the

US, as the sole superpower, has the responsibility to act as a security

provider of last resort when multilateral organizations devoted to this

task become paralyzed. The intervention divided not only the permanent

members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) after

a decade of co-operation but also caused a split in the Atlantic alliance

and among EU members, probably one of the worst to have occurred

on a foreign policy issue in the history of both organizations. Finally,

it put an end—at least temporarily—to that bipartisan consensus in

Italian foreign policy, which had emerged at the end of the 1970s and

consolidated in the 1990s.

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Osvaldo Croci and Marco Valigi

The uprising against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was part of the “Arab

Spring,” a wave of demonstrations that began at the end of 2010 and

led, in a short space of time, to the fall of regimes in Tunisia and

Egypt; uprisings in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain; and street protests in a

number of other Arab countries. Following the collapse of the ruling

administrations in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt on 14 January and 11

February, respectively, street protests against Gaddafi began in Libya.

The violent reaction of the Libyan regime led to uprisings throughout

the country. On 27 February, anti-Gaddafi forces established a provisional

government, known as the National Transitional Council (NTC),

in Benghazi. The ensuing civil war resulted in the intervention of a

NATO-led coalition to enforce United Nations (UN) Security Council

Resolution 1973, which provided for the establishment of a no-fly zone

to protect civilians. From their stronghold in eastern Libya, the anti-

Gaddafi forces, aided by NATO air cover and air strikes, slowly took

control of the rest of the country. They captured Tripoli on 28 August

and then moved against the remaining pro-Gaddafi forces in northeastern

Libya. Gaddafi’s last stand in his hometown of Sirte ended on 20

October, when he was captured and killed.