The U.S. Congress had banned all kinds of direct assistance to Baku through Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act passed in 1992. But a decade later it allowed U.S. administrations to waive the ban to help Azerbaijan’s military and security agencies cope with terrorist threats.
Just like his predecessors, President Joe Biden waived Section 907 in April 2021 over the strong objections of the Armenian community in the U.S.
Armenian American leaders renewed their calls for the Biden administration to freeze military aid to Baku after the outbreak of the large-scale border clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on late on September 12.
Lawmakers representing Armenia’s two main opposition groups echoed those appeals when they met with Pelosi late on Sunday at the end of her visit to Yerevan. They sounded upbeat on that score after the meeting.
“I got an overall sense that there is a [U.S.] resolve to stop military aid to Azerbaijan in the next fiscal year,” said Anna Grigorian of the Hayastan alliance. “We basically got that message.”
“In my personal view, this will be done in the near future,” said Hayk Mamijanian of the Pativ Unem bloc. “I think that there will be bipartisan consensus [in Congress] on this issue because the facts are obvious and America has acknowledged that the Azerbaijani side is the aggressor.”
Pelosi did not comment on the possibility of such a measure when she spoke at a news conference earlier on Sunday. But she did accuse Azerbaijan of launching “illegal and deadly attacks on the Armenian territory.” She indicated that the House of Representatives will also condemn Baku soon in a resolution already drafted by some of its pro-Armenian members.
“The U.S. must halt all assistance to Azerbaijan - immediately and permanently,” one of those lawmakers, Adam Schiff, tweeted on September 13.
The House of Representatives already voted in July 2021 to block any aid that can be provided under Washington’s Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training programs. But it did not bar the U.S. Department of Defense from continuing to transfer military equipment to Azerbaijan.
The administration of former President Donald Trump significantly increased the security aid to Baku, reportedly providing over $100 million worth of equipment and other assistance to Azerbaijan’s State Border Guard Service in 2018-2019 alone.
Azerbaijani border guards participated in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Many of them are now deployed along Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia.