WASHINGTON, D.C. – A strongly-worded letter from the Democrat leadership of the Congressional Armenian Caucus addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Esper, raising their grave concern about “the recent dramatic increase in Department of Defense assistance for the Republic of Azerbaijan and the clear lack of parity in financial aid to the Republic of Armenia.” Armenian Assembly of America reports.
In their letter, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) emphasized that the “historic parity” is a “cornerstone to regional stability and U.S. geo-strategic interests,” and urged the Departments of State and Defense to “fully uphold the intent of U.S. law” and to “ensure any aid provided under a waiver of the law is met with parity in assistance for the Republic of Armenia.”
The U.S. has substantially increased security assistance to Azerbaijan totaling more than $102 million for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Azerbaijan specifically received $58.6 million in fiscal year 2018 and $42.9 million in fiscal year 2019 from the Section 333 Building Partner Capacity program, making it the third highest recipient of aid through that program.
The massive increase in security assistance appears to be related to the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” policy aimed at the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“While we support the goal of countering Iran’s actions in the region, the historic parity in U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia — as underscored in title II of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2002 — is a cornerstone to regional stability and U.S. geo-strategic interests. Armenia only received $4.2 million in U.S. security assistance in fiscal year 2018 and $2.8 million in fiscal year 2019 with just $2.1 million planned for fiscal year 2020.” Th letter states.
Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act of 1992 specifically prohibits U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan: “United States assistance under this or any other Act may not be provided 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.”
“We ask for the immediate halt of military aid to Azerbaijan, a reassessment of the Section 907 waiver and for your Departments to provide the detailed reports required by U.S. law to the public regarding aid to Azerbaijan. We look forward to your prompt reply to this request.” The Congressional concludes.