U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced legislation that would prevent the U.S. from providing security assistance to Azerbaijan until it has been determined that they are not taking offensive action against the Armenians. The Senators introduced the legislation in response to the unilateral seizure, by force of arms, of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan.
“The United States must send a clear message that we will not support the Azeri regime as it continues its campaign of ethnic cleansing against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Senator Van Hollen. “That’s why, in the face of its continued aggression and its blocking of critical humanitarian assistance, the Administration should immediately revoke Azerbaijan’s access to U.S. security assistance.”
“The Azerbaijani government has made it clear – it will use its military resources to eliminate the presence of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.” said Senator Peters. “The United States cannot be complicit in Azerbaijani violence against the Armenian people. We must pass this legislation to block additional American aid to Azerbaijan until it puts an end to its aggression in the region.”
“It’s absurd that our nation has provided security assistance to Azerbaijan for decades, despite existing law requiring the President to certify that Azerbaijan is not taking offensive action against Armenian,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill is an important first step, as would be sanctioning Azerbaijani officials under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.”
“The United States must take a stand to make sure the Azerbaijani government does not inflict further suffering on ethnic Armenians,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to help introduce this bipartisan legislation, which is intended to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“Through the 907 waiver authority, Americans saw their tax money used to provide weapons to Azerbaijan to attack lands where Armenians have lived for centuries. That is not only wrong, it’s perverse. This bill withdraws that authority,” said Dr. Cassidy.
The Armenian Protection Act would end U.S. assistance to the Azerbaijani government that is currently allowed under a waiver to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. Although the Freedom Support Act generally prohibits most bilateral assistance to Azerbaijan, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, waiver authority was added to Section 907 granting additional discretion to the President to provide aid to Azerbaijan. The waiver authority has been invoked annually by Presidents of both parties since 2002 and the Biden Administration is still reviewing its waiver authority for 2023.