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US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacted sharply to President Biden’s decision to once again waive Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, greenlighting new U.S. military aid to the Aliyev regime despite its ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a statement, Chairman Menendez noted, “As Azerbaijan continues to further occupy territory from its violent assault on Nagorno-Karabakh, during which more than 6,500 people died and more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians were displaced in 2020, it simply makes no sense to say that U.S. assistance and training has not impacted its military balance with Armenia. I will continue to conduct rigorous oversight of any and all assistance to Azerbaijan and expect the Department of State to operate with complete transparency and provide all necessary details for Congress to assess any assistance provided to Baku.”

In commentary released to the ANCA, Chairman Schiff pledged to work with Congressional allies and the Armenian American community to “remove a president’s power to waive Section 907 and to urge the Biden administration to reinvigorate the peace process.”  Chairman Schiff explained, “Azerbaijan is responsible for provoking a horrific war and humanitarian disaster in Armenia and Artsakh, killing thousands of Armenians over 44 days in September 2020 and forcing thousands more to flee their ancestral homelands. To this day, Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian soldiers who have been subject to torture, and to threaten thousands of innocent civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh who live in fear of another attack and invasion.”

Chairman Schiff continued, “Under no circumstances should the United States be providing military support to such a regime – it not only runs counter to our nation’s core democratic values, but could empower the Aliyev regime to continue or escalate its provocative actions against Armenians. President Biden should not have waived Section 907.” 

On June 23rd, the Biden Administration reportedly notified Congress of their decision to waive Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act. The measure, adopted in 1992, establishes statutory restrictions on U.S. assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan “until the President determines, and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.” Congress included a Section 907 waiver in the FY2002 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act. U.S. presidents—Republican and Democrat—have waived Section 907 annually ever since.

During his run for office, on October 14th, 2020, then-candidate Biden stated that the United States must “fully implement and not waive requirements under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to stop the flow of military equipment to Azerbaijan.” As President, he first reversed his position on the issue on April 23, 2021—on the eve of his historic announcement properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

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