Senator Menendez to Secretary Blinken: “Halt All Security Assistance to Azerbaijan”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Urges Biden Administration to Stand with Armenian people Against Azerbaijan’s Authoritarian Assault

September 22, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, citing Azerbaijan’s most recent attacks on Armenia, called on the Biden Administration to “halt all security assistance to Azerbaijan and review all assistance programs to the country,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

“We want to thank Chairman Menendez for his principled, powerful, and persistent leadership in cutting off all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan – an urgent undertaking made all the more pressing by Aliyev’s bombing, invasion, and occupation of sovereign Armenian soil,” said ANCA National Board Member Ani Tchaghlasian, who hails from the Garden State. “Working alongside Senator Menendez, we are committed to pursuing statutory and all other avenues available to us to stop the flow of U.S. tax dollars to oil-rich Azerbaijan’s openly aggressive and violently anti-Armenian regime.”

In strongly worded September 22nd letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chairman Menendez asserted, “The United States must play no part in supporting authoritarian brutality,” pledging to work with Senate and House colleagues to eliminate the presidential waiver authority of Section 907 (Public Law 107-115) restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan.

Chairman Menendez stressed that a Government Accountability Office review he had commissioned detailing U.S. aid to Azerbaijan had shown that the State Department “failed to meet statutory reporting requirements to Congress on the impact of U.S. assistance during the period considered. While the Department of State has concurred with the GAO on its recommendations to ensure the necessary requirements are met to invoke the waiver, it has not yet provided action plans to the GAO on how it will address this concern.”

He went on to emphasize that the “Administration must not to minimize the Azerbaijani assault in an effort to appear impartial. President Biden said in his 2022 State of the Union Address, ‘…when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos.’ The United States has an important opportunity to stand with the Armenian people as they attempt to repel an authoritarian assault.”

The full text of Chairman Menendez’s letter is below and available here.

Earlier this week, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) was joined by seven Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the State Department and Defense Department arguing that, “in light of Azerbaijan’s recent and repeated acts of aggression toward Armenia, the United States should cease providing any security assistance to Azerbaijan until Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a permanent and lasting resolution that respects the will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

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September 22, 2022

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken,

I am writing to express my deep concern over the renewal of Azerbaijani attacks on Armenian territory, including on civilian infrastructure. These unprovoked and illegal attacks on communities like Kapan, Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, and Tchakaten, which according to reports killed over 100 Armenians, serve to underscore the brutality of the Aliyev regime. In light of the renewed Azerbaijani aggression, I urge you to halt all security assistance to Azerbaijan and review all assistance programs to the country.

This heinous assault on Armenian territory is only the latest example in a pattern of Azerbaijani brutality. Azerbaijan’s aggression during the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh War resulted in the deaths of 6,500 people, and displaced close to 100,000 ethnic Armenians. The State Department highlighted in its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices the illegal detention of Armenian soldiers and civilians in Baku, and credible reports of unlawful killings and torture by Azerbaijan forces. Aliyev’s military has reportedly used illegal cluster munitions and phosphorous bombs, and posted videos of beheadings online. Azerbaijan’s unambiguous aggression cannot be tolerated.

The United States must play no part in supporting authoritarian brutality. That is why I will continue to pursue efforts in Congress to eliminate the waiver authority under the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-115) that the Administration has used annually to provide certain kinds of security assistance to the Aliyev regime. However, even under current law, there is more that the State Department is required to do in order to assess the impact of U.S. assistance on the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I commissioned a Government Accountability Office review of U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan which found that the Department of State failed to meet statutory reporting requirements to Congress on the impact of U.S. assistance during the period considered. While the Department of State has concurred with the GAO on its recommendations to ensure the necessary requirements are met to invoke the waiver, it has not yet provided action plans to the GAO on how it will address this concern.

As we bear witness to Azerbaijan’s most recent attack, the Administration must not to minimize the Azerbaijani assault in an effort to appear impartial. President Biden said in his 2022 State of the Union Address, “…when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos.” The United States has an important opportunity to stand with the Armenian people as they attempt to repel an authoritarian assault.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez
Chairman

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street NW Washington, DC 20036
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