The U.S. House of Representatives is set to consider an amendment offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) early next week to restore the principle of parity to the level of U.S. military aid provided to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In recent years, the Administration has materially breached this principle, providing Baku with more than $100 million in military assistance, while allocating Armenia less than $5 million in security assistance during this same period.
“We strongly support Congresswoman Speier’s principled, powerful and timely stand for parity in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Parity promotes stability, helps maintain the regional military balance, and strengthens America’s hand as an honest broker in the peace talks. The current, reckless imbalance in U.S. military aid only emboldens Azerbaijan to further escalate its aggression against Armenia and Artsakh – as we saw this week, during the most deadly Azerbaijani attack since 2016.”
The Speier Amendment (Amendment #330 to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act – H.R. 6395), has been cosponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Brad Sherman (D-CA).
Amendment #330 would restore the longstanding policy of parity that had been in place for decades, which was reversed by a State Department waiver in 2018 under Section 333 Building Partner Capacity funding. In 2018 and 2019 combined, Azerbaijan received over $100 million in security assistance under Section 333, while Armenia did not receive Section 333 funding. Funding under Section 333 is the main driver of the large disparity in the amount that Azerbaijan and Armenia receive in total assistance from the U.S.
While Section 333 funding can only be used for defensive, not offensive purposes, it allows Azerbaijan to re-allocate money that it would have budgeted for defensive purposes towards offensive efforts, including deploying U.S.-trained forces for offensive purposes against Armenia and Artsakh.
In addition to the Speier Amendment, the House will also consider the Sherman Amendment (Amendment #66 to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act – H.R. 6395), offered by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA). This measure would mandate that no funds authorized by this bill are used to transfer defense articles or services to Azerbaijan unless the President certifies to Congress that the transfer of such defense articles or services does not threaten civil aviation.”
The government of Azerbaijan has issued a standing threat to shoot down any civilian airplanes traveling between Armenia and Artsakh’s Stepanakert airport. This measure is cosponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and TJ Cox (D-CA)
Other Azerbaijan related amendments may also be voted on when the House considers the NDAA bill as early as the morning of Monday, July 20th.