Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs, Senior House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committee Members Call for Peace Based on Azerbaijani Accountability; Zero-ing Out of Aid to Aliyev Regime
WASHINGTON—Reaction from Capitol Hill condemning Azerbaijan’s wide-spread attacks along the border of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) came swiftly this weekend, with senior legislators calling on the U.S. government and international negotiators to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its escalation of violence and recommending a zero-ing out of aid to the Aliyev regime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We join with members of Congress in condemning Azerbaijan’s aggression and calling upon the Obama-Biden Administration to hold [Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev to account for his unilateral escalation of violence against Nagorno-Karabagh,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Not another U.S. taxpayer dollar should be spent supporting the Azerbaijani military or subsidizing the oil-rich, corrupt, and belligerent Aliyev regime.”
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.), as well as House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Senior Democrat Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), offered powerful comments hours after the Azerbaijani onslaught started.
“I strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s escalation of hostilities against Nagorno-Karabagh, and I join the Obama Administration in urging an immediate de-escalation of the conflict,” said Pallone. “President Aliyev continues to defy international calls to reach a negotiated settlement that will ensure a lasting peace in the region. It is unacceptable for Azerbaijan to continue on its current belligerent path, and I urge the Obama Administration and the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Minsk Group to demand accountability on the part of Azerbaijan and continue to work toward implementing proposals that promote peace.”
Dold, his Republican counterpart, concurred. “Once again we are reminded that Azerbaijan continues to say one thing and do the exact opposite,” said Dold. “Rather than obscure the reality with allusions towards even-handedness, I hope that the Obama Administration will continue to work with Nagorno-Karabagh and the OSCE Minsk Group to come to a peaceful resolution where Azerbaijan is held accountable for their actions.”
Schiff stated he is “deeply disturbed by and condemns” the escalation in violence, noting that its occurrence just days after Aliyev’s meetings with Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry “demonstrates that the policy of the United States and the Minsk Group is simply not working.” Schiff continued, “Until Azerbaijan faces strong and meaningful consequences over their policy of escalation and violence and its self-serving refusal to agree to international monitoring of the Line of Contact, there is little chance of resolving the conflict and avoiding further bloodshed.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Senior Democrat Brad Sherman, calling Azerbaijan’s attacks “deeply disappointing,” condemned the violence and recommended that “U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan be cut off until it ceases its aggression, renounces violence, and commits to a purely peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
Sherman joined House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) in leading a congressional letter delivered to President Obama just one week earlier, co-signed by over 50 House colleagues, calling on the administration to speak with Aliyev about the implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals during his visit to Washington, D.C. for the nuclear summit. The proposals include three concrete steps: the withdrawal of snipers, the placement of a gun-locator system, and deployment of additional OSCE monitors. Armenia and Artsakh have already agreed to the proposals. “Instead, it appears that Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev launched new attacks against Nagorno-Karabagh,” said Sherman.
The latest attacks, the worst since the 1994 ceasefire established between Nagorno-Karabagh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, began in the early morning of April 2, with Azerbaijani tanks, military helicopters, drones, and various caliber weapons bombarding the southern, southeastern, and northeastern borders of Artsakh. There were multiple casualties on both sides. Civilians were also targeted. According to reports, 12-year-old Vaghinag Grigoryan was killed in the Marduni region, and 2 other children were wounded, from a Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher attack. An elderly couple in the village of Talish were also found executed and mutilated on April 3. Reports of an Azerbaijani ceasefire have proven false and the situation at the Karabagh border remains extremely tense.