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 Tuesday, June 28 2022 11:37
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Menendez, Schiff Alarmed that Biden again approves U.S. military aid  to Azerbaijan - ANCA

Menendez, Schiff Alarmed that Biden again approves U.S. military aid  to Azerbaijan - ANCA

ArmInfo. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacted  sharply to President Biden's decision to once again waive Section 907  restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, greenlighting new U.S.  military aid to the Aliyev regime despite its ethnic cleansing of the  indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh),  reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).  

In a statement released on Friday, Chairman Menendez noted, "I am  deeply disappointed to see the Department of State once again make an  exception to bypass Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act to provide  what has become annual assistance to the regime in Baku. Adding  insult to injury, the administration chose to move forward with this  most recent waiver despite the recent publication of a Government  Accountability Office (GAO) report which confirmed the Department of  State and Department of Defense have failed to meet statutory  reporting requirements to Congress on the impact of U.S.  assistance  on the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan." 

Chairman Menendez continued, "As Azerbaijan continues to further  occupy territory from its violent assault on Nagorno-Karabakh, during  which more than 6,500 people died and more than 100,000 ethnic  Armenians were displaced in 2020, it simply makes no sense to say  that U.S. assistance and training has not impacted its military  balance with Armenia. I will continue to conduct rigorous oversight  of any and all assistance to Azerbaijan and expect the Department of  State to operate with complete transparency and provide all necessary  details for Congress to assess any assistance provided to Baku." 

In commentary released to the ANCA, Chairman Schiff pledged to work  with Congressional allies and the Armenian American community to  "remove a president's power to waive Section 907 and to urge the  Biden administration to reinvigorate the peace process."  Chairman  Schiff explained, "Azerbaijan is responsible for provoking a horrific  war and humanitarian disaster in Armenia and Artsakh, killing  thousands of Armenians over 44 days in September 2020 and forcing  thousands more to flee their ancestral homelands. To this day,  Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian soldiers who have  been subject to torture, and to threaten thousands of innocent  civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh who live in fear of another attack and  invasion.  

Chairman Schiff continued, "Under no circumstances should the United  States be providing military support to such a regime - it not only  runs counter to our nation's core democratic values, but could  empower the Aliyev regime to continue or escalate its provocative  actions against Armenians. President Biden should not have waived  Section 907." 

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian thanked Chairman Menendez and  Chairman Schiff for calling out the Biden Administration's reckless  decision - demanding stronger Congressional oversight and a stop to  U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. "Not a single penny in U.S.  tax-payer money should go to the overtly racist and openly aggressive  Aliyev regime.  We look forward to working with Chairman Menendez and  Chairman Schiff and their colleagues on key committees in both the  Senate and the House to oppose U.S.  subsidies for Azerbaijan's  genocidal violence against Artsakh and Armenia." 

The ANCA has been running an online campaign - https://anca.org/907 -  condemning President Biden's decision and urging Congress to use  every legislative vehicle possible to zero-out military aid to  Azerbaijan.  

On June 23rd, the Biden Administration reportedly notified Congress  of their decision to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act.  The measure, adopted in 1992, establishes statutory restrictions on  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."  Congress included a Section 907 waiver in the FY2002 Foreign  Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations  Act. U.S. presidents - Republican and Democrat - have waived Section  907 annually ever since.  

During his run for office, on October 14th, 2020, then-candidate  Biden stated that the United States must "fully implement and not  waive requirements under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to  stop the flow of military equipment to Azerbaijan." As President, he  first reversed his position on the issue on April 23, 2021 - on the  eve of his historic announcement properly recognizing the Armenian   Genocide.  

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, issued earlier  this year, revealed that the State Department consistently failed to  inform Congress of the impact of over $164 million in assistance to  Baku on the military balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia.   According to the GAO, the U.S. has provided about $808 million in  overall US aid to Azerbaijan in fiscal years 2002 through 2020.   

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