Armenian Caucus Calls on Obama and Congress to Suspend Military Aid and Condemn Baku

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL)
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL)

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL)

Urges Congress to Suspend Military Aid to Baku

WASHINGTON—Speaking on behalf of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Co-Chairs Robert Dold (R-IL) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Thursday issued strong, bipartisan calls, asking President Obama to forcefully condemn Azerbaijan’s military offensive and urging top U.S. House appropriators to zero-out U.S. military assistance to Ilham Aliyev’s armed forces, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“We echo the powerful, pro-peace message the Armenian Caucus delivered today to President Obama and key U.S. House appropriators,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We join with them in supporting a shift in U.S. policy that challenges Aliyev’s aggression and protects American taxpayers from subsidizing an Azerbaijan military that is killing innocent Armenians, destabilizing a vital region, undermining U.S. interests, very likely committing war crimes, and risking the outbreak of an even larger regional conflict. Stated simply: Ilham Aliyev doesn’t need U.S. military aid, he doesn’t deserve U.S. military aid, and he shouldn’t get U.S. military aid.”

In their letter to the President, in addition to calling for a forthright condemnation of Baku’s belligerence, the two Co-Chairs asked that he “suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, provide emergency relief aid to Nagorno Karabakh, and send a State Department fact-finding mission to both evaluate the destruction inflicted by Azerbaijan’s aggression and assess the humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs of Nagorno Karabakh’s affected civilian population.” They noted that, “Azerbaijan’s attacks represent a dramatic escalation in President Aliyev’s destructive pattern of aggression, constant threats of renewed war, ongoing incitement of anti-Armenian hatred, and the military targeting of Armenian civilians in both Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. They also reflect his desire to act with international impunity – as so clearly demonstrated by his rejection of common-sense, cease-fire monitoring and other accountability-oriented initiatives – such as the urgently-needed Royce-Engel peace proposals that are supported by your Administration.”

In their bipartisan appeal to the leadership of the State-Foreign Operations subcommittee, the panel that writes the foreign aid bill, the Co-Chairs urged Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) to include a provision in this measure ensuring “the suspension of military aid [to Azerbaijan] until its government ceases cross-border attacks, ends its threats of renewed war, and agrees to a settlement of regional conflicts through peaceful means.” They added, “Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has made it abundantly clear through his country’s escalating aggression that Azerbaijan believes it can continue to receive American military aid no matter its actions. This belief is wrong. While the United States provides military assistance for a number of reasons, our assistance should never be taken for granted, and we should never tolerate its unacceptable misuse by foreign nations.” The letter closed with the two legislators stressing that, “In calling for a suspension of military aid to Azerbaijan, we are mindful that Azerbaijan’s regional aggression both reflects and reinforces its pattern of domestic abuse, including its brutal crack-down on dissent. Rather than providing military aid to Azerbaijan we should be putting pressure on the country to cease its undemocratic policies.”

The full text of both letters is provided below.

Quote from the Armenian Caucus Letter to House Foreign Aid Appropriators Regarding Azerbaijani Aggression

Quote from the Armenian Caucus Letter to House Foreign Aid Appropriators Regarding Azerbaijani Aggression

Text of Armenian Caucus Letter to President Obama (April 7, 2016)

Dear President Obama:
We are writing as co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, amid the worst Azerbaijani attacks since the 1994 Nagorno Karabakh cease-fire, to call upon you to take action. We request that you condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression, suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, provide emergency relief aid to Nagorno Karabakh, and send a State Department fact-finding mission to both evaluate the destruction inflicted by Azerbaijan’s aggression and assess the humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs of Nagorno Karabakh’s affected civilian population.

We are particularly troubled that President Aliyev chose to launch his country’s latest assault only hours after meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom called openly for a peaceful, non-violent resolution of status and security issues related to Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan’s attacks represent a dramatic escalation in President Aliyev’s destructive pattern of aggression, constant threats of renewed war, ongoing incitement of anti-Armenian hatred, and the military targeting of Armenian civilians in both Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. They also reflect his desire to act with international impunity – as so clearly demonstrated by his rejection of common-sense, cease-fire monitoring and other accountability-oriented initiatives – such as the urgently-needed Royce-Engel peace proposals that are supported by your Administration.

We call upon you to abandon the current, flawed U.S. policy of false-parity. In support of our American national interest in deterring renewed attacks and regional instability, we urge you to suspend all military aid to Azerbaijan, and, in keeping with American humanitarian values, we ask you to provide both emergency and longer-term relief aid to the civilian population of Nagorno Karabakh.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Quote from the Armenian Caucus Letter to President Obama Regarding Azerbaijani Aggression

Quote from the Armenian Caucus Letter to President Obama Regarding Azerbaijani Aggression

Text of Armenian Caucus Letter to U.S. House Appropriators (April 7, 2016)

Dear Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member Lowey:
We are writing as co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, in the wake of the worst Azerbaijani attacks since the 1994 Nagorno Karabakh cease-fire. We strongly reiterate our opposition to providing foreign military assistance to Azerbaijan, and we urge the suspension of military aid until its government ceases cross-border attacks, ends its threats of renewed war, and agrees to a settlement of regional conflicts through peaceful means.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has made it abundantly clear through his country’s escalating aggression that Azerbaijan believes it can continue to receive American military aid no matter its actions. This belief is wrong. While the United States provides military assistance for a number of reasons, our assistance should never be taken for granted, and we should never tolerate its unacceptable misuse by foreign nations.

As you know, President Aliyev visited Washington, DC last week for the Nuclear Security Summit, during which he met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Despite American calls for peace from both of these two U.S. leaders, President Aliyev launched attacks across the entire length of the Nagorno Karabakh line-of-contact, just hours after the close of the Summit. This represents a dramatic escalation of President Aliyev’s pattern of aggression that has included constant threats of violence, ongoing incitement of anti-Armenian hatred, and the military targeting of Armenian civilians in both Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. It reflects, as well, Azerbaijan’s continued objection to the Royce-Engel peace proposals – concrete, accountability-based recommendations, backed by the United States, the OSCE, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, to pull back snipers and heavy arms from the border, add observers, and deploy gunfire locators.

In calling for a suspension of military aid to Azerbaijan, we are mindful that Azerbaijan’s regional aggression both reflects and reinforces its pattern of domestic abuse, including its brutal crack-down on dissent. Rather than providing military aid to Azerbaijan we should be putting pressure on the country to cease its undemocratic policies.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

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