Senate and House leaders urge Pompeo to cut military aid to Azerbaijan, sanction Turkey
Key Senate and House leaders, joined by over sixty of their colleagues, have called on Secretary of State Pompeo to take decisive action in condemning the Azerbaijan and Turkey-led offensive against Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), urging sanctions on military and security assistance, as Presidents Aliyev and Erdogan escalate their attacks on civilian populations across the region, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Armenian Americans and our allies in Congress demand a stop to the killing, sanctions on Turkey, and an immediate cut-off of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Erdogan and Aliyev – two dictators conspiring to complete the work of 1915 – need to be held accountable now.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was joined by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and nine colleagues in sending a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, calling for the immediate end to U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan and calling on the Trump Administration to immediately engage with Turkey President Erdogan to disengage from the conflict. “If Turkey is unwilling to step back from active engagement in the conflict, then the State Department should immediately suspend all sales and transfers of military equipment to Ankara,” note the Senators.
“Given the possibility that this conflict could engulf the region and draw in other external actors, it is imperative that the U.S. use its diplomatic leverage to bring about an immediate cease fire,” explained the Senators. “We appreciate the engagement by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun, and Minsk Group Co-Chair Andrew Schofer, but the circumstances call for more senior-level U.S. engagement before the conflict escalates further.”
Joining Senators Menendez and Democratic Leader Schumer in cosigning the letter were Senators Corey Booker (D-NJ), Robert Casey (D-PA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Separately, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID), was joined by U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in issuing a statement noting that “the rapid escalation of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region is extremely worrying. Sadly, over the past five days, both sides have faced needless casualties. All regional powers involved in the conflict must end their aggressive and escalatory actions, and channel their efforts into bringing all parties to the negotiating table. The risk this violence poses to the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the wider Caucasus region is too great.” The statement goes on to call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to continue working with the “Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group to negotiate a peaceful end to this decades-long disagreement.”
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Jackie Speier, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Ranking Republican Devin Nunes (R-CA) and 45 House colleagues called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take decisive U.S. government action to condemn Azerbaijan’s unprovoked aggression, take steps to block U.S. aid to the Aliyev regime, demand greater cease-fire monitoring along the line of contact, and call out Turkey’s “detrimental” role in Azerbaijan’s recent attacks.
“We write to express our deep concern with Azerbaijan’s renewed aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and the rising possibility of a wider conflict with Armenia. We ask that the Administration use all available diplomatic tools to reduce tensions, end the fighting, and restrain Azerbaijan from further offensive actions,” stated the House members. “In our view, this new round of fighting represents further evidence that the U.S. policy of equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan has failed. For far too long, the United States and other members of the Minsk Group have drawn a false equivalence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, even as the latter threatens war and refuses to agree to monitoring along the line of contact.”
Joining Representatives Pallone, Speier, Schiff, and Nunes in cosigning the House letter to Secretary Pompeo are Representatives: Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Harder (D-CA), Steve King (R-IA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Brian Mast (R-FL), James McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).
Well over 150,000 letters and 10,000 calls have already reached President Trump, former Vice-President Biden, U.S. Senators and House members through the ANCA’s dual action portals – anca.org/alert and anca.org/call – in support of zeroing out military and security aid to Azerbaijan, sanctioning Turkey for their participation in the latest attacks against Armenia and Artsakh, urging the implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposal, which would help ensure a cease-fire through the more OSCE monitors along the line of contact and the placement of gunfire-locator systems to identify those breaking the ceasefire. Over 35 Senate and House Members have already condemned the Turkey and Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian attacks.