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Azerbaijan keeps receiving U.S. military aid despite vain Armenian efforts

24 January 2022 11:13 (UTC+04:00)
Azerbaijan keeps receiving U.S. military aid despite vain Armenian efforts

By Sabina Mammadli

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act by the American Congress, 20 of which it remained inactive due to a suspension by U.S. President George Bush at the time in 2002.

The amendment was adopted with the phrase "until Azerbaijan takes obvious steps to eliminate all types of blockades and offensive forms of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh".

Joe Biden, like his predecessors, suspended the section last May, implying that Azerbaijan will continue to receive direct American military assistance in 2022. Despite promising the Armenians during his election campaign that he would put an end to this, Joe Biden did not keep his word.

Following Biden's declaration of Ottoman Turkey's events in 1915 as "genocide", Armenians have decided that the time has come to seize the U.S. support for Azerbaijan and reactivate Section 907.

Armenia hoped that problems would arise between Washington and Baku as a result of those statements. The failure of these hopes is especially noticeable given that, during the amendment's 20-year inactivity, Azerbaijan has received twice as much U.S. military aid as Armenia. This disparity was especially pronounced during Donald Trump's presidency when Azerbaijan received $105 million while Armenia received only $16 million. It should be noted that the new administration, like the previous one, shows no signs of deterioration in relations with Baku and Ankara.

In a commentary to Day.az, American analyst, lawyer, and human rights activist Irina Tsukerman said that Biden's motives for promising the Armenians a refusal of military aid to Azerbaijan before the elections are unknown, but it is understandable that he needed to throw a bone to the Armenian diaspora in California, where Kamala Harris lives, for the sake of appearance.

"It is understandable that during election campaigns, candidates make many contradictory and unfulfillable promises to garner the most support from various segments of the population... It also happens that candidates simply do not understand the gravity of the consequences of their promises, and after taking their long-awaited seat, they revise their policies," she explained.

According to her, Biden could not abandon the Democratic Party's loyalists and important political allies in the upcoming elections, though it is unlikely that Armenian lobbyists would have sided with Trump even if Biden had not rushed with words.

"Biden is already in place, and the Armenian lobby will not go away in the next three years, but Azerbaijan can assist Biden with Europe, green energy development in the Caucasus, and even the restraint of aggressive Iranian policy. And, while Yerevan is willing to make some concessions on democracy issues, it is still very close to Moscow and will be unable to separate itself from it. Continuing military assistance to Azerbaijan, Biden is attempting to strike a balance 'for both ours and yours'," according to Tsukerman.

Back in late September 2021, President Ilham Aliyev explained very clearly and concisely the principles standing behind Section 907 passed by the U.S. Congress.

“After all... the decisions that were made by some countries, they simply defy any logic. While it was Azerbaijani territory that was occupied, the U.S. Congress passed the notorious amendment to the Freedom Support Act, Section No. 907, which deprived Azerbaijan of direct military assistance, direct US assistance, not only military. And we, the affected country, we were essentially discriminated against,” Aliyev said in an interview with Russia’s Natsionalnaya Oborona magazine.

He said that “the rationale behind it was that Azerbaijan was blocking Armenia. Just imagine - Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin and Kalbajar districts are occupied. And this is described as a blockade of Armenia”.

He stressed that Armenia’s diaspora organizations and also the media controlled by the Armenian lobby distorted the essence of the conflict.

“The fact that Armenia is an aggressor, an occupier which committed ethnic cleansing and an act of genocide in Khojaly, destroyed all historical and cultural buildings – all this was concealed,” Aliyev said.

In April 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a telephone conversation with Aliyev that in 2021 too the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act was extended.

On October 24, 2001, the Senate adopted an amendment to the Act that would provide the President with the ability to waiver Section 907.

It should be noted that no amendment or any diaspora-manipulated document can have an impact on the state policy and national interests of Azerbaijan which in the 44-day war facilitated on its own the implementation of four UN resolutions urging the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories.

Azerbaijan was one of the first countries to join the global anti-terror coalition assembled by the U.S. government. Azerbaijan opened its airspace to the allied forces and assured its agencies would cooperate and provide information that would assist in American-led efforts.

Azerbaijan’s contributions to the US-led anti-terror campaign also included deploying a peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan. Azerbaijani peacekeepers began serving there in November 2002, and by 2021 the contingent consisted of 120 servicemen. They left the country more than a week after the Taliban seized power on August 15, 2021.

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