President Joe Biden's April 24, 2021 decision to recognize the murder and expulsion of up to 1.5 million Armenians from Turkey as Genocide was long overdue. However, 48 hours later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a gift to his Turkish brethren in Azerbaijan by waiving Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which prohibits direct aid to the Azerbaijani government because of its aggression against Armenians, David Phillips noted in his article on National Interest.
"Biden and Blinken should have known better; appeasement does not work," David Phillips said.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have once again launched an unprovoked attack on Armenia. The New York Times noted, “For the first time in 30 years of a largely frozen conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts, Azerbaijan attacked Armenian air defense and artillery systems based inside Armenia.” Heavy shelling inside Armenia has been reported, targeting homes and infrastructure, despite denials from Turkey and Azerbaijan and attempts to shift the blame.
Such behavior is not new for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has launched cross-border operations to establish a zone of Turkish influence in former Ottoman territories. Erdogan is pursuing a neo-Ottoman agenda by targeting Kurds in Syria and Iraq, sending troops to Libya and the eastern Mediterranean and using Azerbaijan as a puppet for the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan is a Turkic country that is loyal to its "big brother" Turkey. In 2020, Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh ("Artsakh" in Armenian) and committed crimes, including mistreatment of prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions, as well as a cultural genocide against Armenian churches and religious icons, he said.
The international community handed over peacekeeping operations to Russia and thereby undermined the prospects for peace itself. America's non-interference approach also undermines the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, which is charged with mediating the conflict. The recent appointment of Philip Reeker, a seasoned diplomat, as co-chair of the Minsk Group is a good step that could revitalize international mediation.
The U.S. has criticized Azerbaijan's recent attacks on Armenia, but words mean little to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Aliyev believes that with Turkish support and Turkish weapons, he can attack Armenians without consequences.
In fact, the U.S. rewarded Azerbaijan for its aggression. The West has turned to Azerbaijan, Venezuela and Iran to fill the energy supply gap due to Russia's decision to close the Nord Stream pipeline. Ukraine is Biden's top priority, outweighing other issues, including human rights.
Azerbaijan must pay the price for attacking a sovereign state in violation of international law. The Biden administration can get Aliyev's attention by repealing the Section 907 waiver.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, condemns Azerbaijan's unprovoked attacks on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire." It also demands an end to all aid to Azerbaijan, whose aggression is an attempt to eliminate the centuries-old Christian presence of Armenians in the Caucasus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel to Armenia this weekend to express support.
Objective observers in the region are confused by the Biden administration's controversial statements regarding Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenian-Americans will undoubtedly express their displeasure during the midterm elections if Biden does not take meaningful steps in response to Azerbaijani aggression.
A credible response begins with a repeal of the Section 907 waiver and a significant increase in U.S. aid and presence in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to protect a democratic Armenia. Like the defense of Ukraine, Washington must take steps to prevent Turkish aggression against a sovereign nation and strategic partner.