House Members Raise Concerns Over Section 907 Waiver for Azerbaijan

Today, the bipartisan co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, U.S. Representatives David G. Valadao (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Frank Pallone (D-NJ),  and Jackie Speier (D-CA), along with  27 Congressional colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the Biden Administration to stop U.S. Aid to Azerbaijan immediately.

The letter stresses the Congressional members concerns that the “State Department did not fully consider Azerbaijan’s lack of progress in ceasing its blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia 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.”

Furthermore the Congressional members urgently request that State Department “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.”

Lastly, the Congressional members point out 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.”

Armenian Council of America’s Washington D.C. Representative, Taniel Koushakjian said “The very notion that our US Congress will allow the White House to usurp their authority and continue to send tax payer dollars to the tyrannical regime in Baku, which will undoubtedly be used to kill Armenians as it was last year, runs counter to every single American value we hold dear. The Armenian American community greatly appreciates Congressman Valadao and his Armenian Caucus colleagues for their efforts to keep American foreign policy on the right track and we join them in urging the Administration to do the right thing.”

A copy of the letter is available HERE.

The Armenian Council of America is committed to promote the civic and civil rights interests of the Armenian American community, and to champion the causes and concerns of the Armenian-American community within local, state, and federal governments.