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.