US legislators press for statutory ban on military aid to Baku

Representatives Sherman, Pallone and Speier Introduce Pro-Accountability Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON, DCIn the hours leading up to Tuesday’s filing deadline, three senior members of the US House have introduced amendments to the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4350) zeroing out US military aid to Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We thank Representatives Speier, Pallone and Sherman for giving their Congressional colleagues the long-overdue opportunity for an up-or-down vote on zeroing out any and all US military aid to oil-rich Azerbaijan,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the ANCA. “In the wake of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing last year of 100,000+ indigenous Armenians from Artsakh – amid Aliyev’s ongoing invasion and occupation of Armenian territory – the Congress must act in a bipartisan manner to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its violent anti-Armenian aggression.”

The amendment offered by Congressman Sherman (D-CA), a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, states that: “No Federal funds may be made available to provide any United States military or security assistance or cooperation to the defense or security forces of the Government of Azerbaijan.”

The amendment filed by Rep. Pallone, the founding co-chair of the Armenian Caucus, specifically addresses the largest stream of US military aid to Azerbaijan – Section 333 assistance: “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2022 to carry out the authority of section 333 of title 10, United States Code, be made available for assistance for Azerbaijan.”

The measure introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a highly respected member of the Armed Services Committee, reads: “None of the amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense may be made available to provide any United States military or security assistance or cooperation to the defense or security forces of the Government of Azerbaijan.”

Additional amendments are expected to be filed prior to Tuesday’s deadline.

On September 20th, the House Rules Committee will be meeting to decide which amendments will be considered “in order,” paving the way for full US House consideration later that week. The ANCA is mounting a nationwide campaign to encourage US Representatives to cosponsor pro-Artsakh/Armenia amendments. Amendments with strong, bipartisan backing are generally considered more favorably by Rules Committee members.

The full text of the ANCA’s legislative briefing on NDAA amendments cutting US military aid to Azerbaijan is provided below.

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ANCA LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING: VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT(S) TO THE FY22 NDAA (H.R.4350) CUTTING U.S. MILITARY AID TO AZERBAIJAN

Legislative Request: Stop US arms and aid to oil-rich Azerbaijan.

The full U.S. House – following up on passage this July of the Pallone Amendment to the FY22 foreign aid bill, prohibiting International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) aid to Azerbaijan – should amend the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act to zero-out all Section 333 (Capacity Building) and other military assistance to the Aliyev regime.

Key Points:

— Amid so many pressing needs here at home, Congress should not be sending U.S. tax dollars to subsidize the oil-rich regime of Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev.

— In the wake of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of 100,000+ indigenous Armenians from Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) –amid Azerbaijan’s ongoing invasion and occupation of Armenian territory – not a single U.S. tax-dollar should be sent to the Aliyev government.

— The $120,000,000 in U.S. military aid sent to Azerbaijan emboldened its leaders to ethnically-cleanse Artsakh last September and encourages them to continue invading and occupying Armenian land today.

— Now, more than ever, the Congress must act in a bipartisan manner to maintain the spirit and the letter of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, a longstanding provision of law aimed at holding Azerbaijan accountable for its relentless aggression against Armenians.

The Big Picture:

— Sending U.S. military aid to human rights abusers like Azerbaijan not only recklessly enables Baku’s aggression, it undermines the Administration’s commitment to human rights as a core tenet of our foreign policy.

— The cost of green-lighting military aid to Azerbaijan extend well beyond the South Caucasus. Abetting one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes during a regional humanitarian and security crisis signals that the U.S. is willing to abandon our values for the sake of oil interests.

— U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide comes with the responsibilities, among them not sending arms or aid to states – like Azerbaijan – that seek to complete this crime.

Background:

In July of 2021, the House adopted the Pallone Amendment to the FY22 foreign aid bill, prohibiting International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) aid to Azerbaijan.

As a candidate, President Biden called on the United States to enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM SUPPORT ACT and “stop the flow of military equipment to Azerbaijan.”

This law, as originally enacted in 1992 with strong bipartisan support, restricts U.S. assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan until the President determines, and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It has been waived – under expanded authority granted by Congress in 2001 – during the Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden Administrations.

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ANCA

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues. To learn more, visit www.anca.org.

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