Rep. Valadao leads efforts to freeze US military assistance to Azerbaijan

Congressman David G. Valadao leads Armenian Caucus drive to freeze existing US military assistance to Azerbaijan and block any future aid that contributes directly or indirectly to Azerbaijan’s military operations, activities, or capabilities.

The full text of the Congressional sign-on letter is provided below:

Dear Secretary Blinken,

We wish to register our concern with your decision on April 26 to waive the longstanding statutory restriction on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. This action is particularly distressing following Baku’s hostilities last fall against the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh () and the delayed release of the remaining Armenian prisoners of war and detainees. While we appreciate the willingness of State Department officials including Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent and Ambassador Andrew Schofer to discuss these issues, we believe the issuance of this waiver is a mistake and is not in line with Congressional intent. We will consider legislative action in response to clarify the waiver authority.

We are concerned that the State Department did not fully consider Azerbaijan’s lack of progress in ceasing its blockades and other offensive uses of force against and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), and instead moved forward with this waiver without detailing serious national security concerns. This year’s waiver comes despite last year’s 44-day war, Azerbaijan’s embrace of Al Qaeda-linked Syrian mercenaries, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s renunciation of further diplomacy to resolve outstanding issues. These actions are inconsistent with provisions of the Section 907 waiver and demonstrate the dire need for changes to the Administration’s waiver process to prevent further aid from going to Azerbaijan until they make demonstrable changes to their behavior.

In light of the Section 907 waiver, we urgently request that you suspend any existing military or security assistance to Azerbaijan, including aid provided under Section 333 Building Partner Capacity programs, and block any new U.S. aid that directly or indirectly contributes to Azerbaijan’s military operations, activities, or capabilities. The more than $100 million in such aid from U.S. taxpayers provided to Azerbaijan in recent years materially developed Baku’s military and border monitoring capabilities, allowing the Aliyev government to shift resources toward offensive operations against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and Armenia. While it was positive to hear on a recent call that the Administration does not foresee providing additional Section 333 assistance beyond what has already been provided, the amount provided to date is itself disturbing.

The oil-rich Aliyev government, which continues to illegally hold Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians six months after the end of hostilities, neither needs nor deserves U.S. assistance. American taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize Azerbaijan so long as they continue to take destabilizing action in the region, attack Armenians living in their indigenous homeland, and hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict. As such, we ask for the immediate termination of all U.S. military or security aid to Azerbaijan.

Thank you for your immediate attention to these concerns.

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