WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced two of the foreign policy amendments he is filing to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As the primary vehicle for authorizing defense spending for Fiscal Year 2022, Chairman Menendez’s proposed changes to the NDAA seek to significantly improve the U.S. government’s ability to track and assess the national security implications of the proliferation of Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, as well as to prevent further exceptions to bypass a 1992 law banning U.S. military assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan.
- Amendment Ending 907 Waiver: Prohibits the continued use of an exemption waiver of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act. Section 907, which has been law since 1992, bans most assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan until it takes demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Government of Azerbaijan has clearly not taken these steps, yet assistance to that government has skyrocketed in recent years.
“As the regime in Baku, with Turkey’s support, continues choosing a path of violence instead of a peaceful, negotiated process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is long past time for this and all future administrations to halt this type of assistance and fully respect Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act,” said Menendez. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure this year’s NDAA continues to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy interests all while representing a prudent use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”
- Amendment on Turkey’s Drone Program: Mandates the State Department and Pentagon report on Turkish drone exports since 2018 and whether those drones contain parts or technology manufactured by U.S. firms. The amendment also requires State to determine whether Turkey’s exports are a violation of the Arms Export Control Act or any other U.S. law or sanctions. Turkish drones played a decisive role in last year’s war between Armenian and Azerbaijan. Since then, Poland, Morocco, and Ukraine have purchased the Bayraktar TB2 and several other countries have expressed interest, including Angola, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
“Turkey’s drone sales are dangerous, destabilizing and a threat to peace and human rights,” added Menendez. “The U.S. should have no part of it, and this amendment is a recognition that we must prevent U.S. parts from being included in these Turkish weapons.”
“Eliminating the 2001 waiver authority added to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act is long overdue and reflects the reality on the ground today that Azerbaijan never was and never will be a U.S. partner in the global fight against terrorism, because Azerbaijan is itself a terror sponsoring state. Furthermore, Turkey’s killer drone program has destabilized conflict zones in the South Caucasus, the Middle East, and North Africa, and any American components used must be declared dual use and sanctioned for export to Turkey. We commend Senator Menendez for his leadership and ensuring U.S. national security and American interests come first.” stated Armenian Council of America’s Washington DC Representative Taniel Koushakjian.
This is good.
However, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (of which Senator Menendez is the chairman) interviewed Jeff Flake to be the US ambassador to Turkey, no member of the Committee asked Flake even one question about Turkey’s ongoing support for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.
This is shocking.
None of those senators can, therefore, be called principled.