ArmInfo.Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez introduced legislation today to revoke the President's authority to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and enact U.S. sanctions against President Ilham Aliyev and other senior Azerbaijani officials, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The measure condemns Azerbaijan's ethnic cleansing of Artsakh and calls upon Azerbaijan to lift its blockade, allow the delivery of U.S. and international humanitarian assistance, and release all Armenian POWs, in addition to authorizing multi-year appropriations of direct U.S. humanitarian aid to Artsakh and for energy, science, and military programs in Armenia. "Congress is leading where our President has so clearly failed - in standing up to Azerbaijan, sanctioning Aliyev and sending humanitarian aid to Artsakh," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
"We encourage the broad-based and growing bipartisan support for revoking the President's statutory authority to suspend Section 907, and look forward to seeing this provision enacted into law." Joining Senator Menendez as early cosponsors of the "Supporting Armenians Against Azerbaijani Act" are Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Gary Peters (D-MD).
Authorizations for spending in Senator Menendez's measure are as follows: -- A one-time authorization to appropriate to the United States Agency for International Development, for fiscal year 2024, $30,000,000 to provide humanitarian assistance to groups in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh impacted by the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan's September 2022 attack on Armenia, and Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin Corridor. -- A one-time authorization to appropriate $10,000,000 for the Department of State for fiscal year 2024 for Foreign Military Financing program assistance for the Republic of Armenia. -- A three-year authorization to appropriate $650,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2026 to carry out activities to support the energy sector of the Republic of Armenia. -- A five-year authorization to appropriate $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024 through 2028 for activities promoting U.S.-Armenian cooperation on science and technology. The text of the bill is available at: https://anca.org/assets/pdf/092123_Menendez_AzerbaijanSanctionsBill.pdf
Upon introduction of the bill earlier today, Chairman Menendez and Senate cosponsors stressed the urgency of holding Azerbaijan accountable for their blockade and escalating aggression against the 120,000 indigenous Artsakh Armenian population. "President Aliyev has repeatedly shown he will stop at nothing to eradicate Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and threaten his neighbors. This urgent bipartisan legislation both solidifies our collective support for Armenians and sends a clear message to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh that the United States will not stand idly by while the Aliyev regime carries out its brutal campaigns of starvation and military action," explained Chairman Menendez.
"The Azeri government and President Aliyev used first a blockade and then an attack to force their will upon Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians suffered the first genocide of the 20th century, which opened the door for many of the horrors in this century. This is the latest episode of the use of force to resolve things which should be done diplomatically," said Senator Cassidy.
"Azerbaijan's renewed attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh are unacceptable. The US and international community must act to end the blockade, halt Azerbaijan's aggression against Armenians and hold those responsible accountable. This legislation sends a clear signal that we will not stand idly by in the face of these attacks," noted Senator Van Hollen.
"We cannot stand idly by as Azerbaijan takes escalatory steps to ethnically cleanse Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must swiftly pass this legislation to provide immediate support to Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure the Azerbaijani regime is held accountable for its grave human rights violations and unprovoked acts of aggression on Armenians in the region. I will continue to work to create the conditions for lasting peace in the region," stressed Senator Padilla. "America can't stand idly by as brutal violence perpetrated by the authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan raises the specter of genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh. This legislation imposes stiff sanctions that will help hold the Azerbaijani government accountable for its clear human rights violations, while authorizing much-needed humanitarian assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Armenia," noted Senator Whitehouse. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is leading a Senate bill to hold Azerbaijan calling for the repeal of the waiver of Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan and sanctions on Azerbaijani leaders for war crimes.