Menendez amendments aim to stop U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, block F-16 sales to Turkey

 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would block U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan and stop the sale of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits to Turkey, measures strongly supported by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We want to thank Senator Menendez for his leadership in holding to account two reckless regional powers – Turkey and Azerbaijan –each representing clear and present dangers to Armenia and Artsakh,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Enacted these measures into law will ensure that neither U.S. arms nor American tax dollars are sent to either of these regimes.”

The Menendez Amendment #SA5752 would repeal the U.S. presidential waiver authority of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, effectively blocking all military assistance to Azerbaijan.  Earlier this week, Chairman Menendez was joined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in introducing S.Res.797 which condemns Azerbaijan’s most recent attacks against Armenia, again calls for an end to U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, urges the White House to explore Magnitsky Law sanctions on the Aliyev regime, and calls for increased U.S. aid to Armenia and Artsakh.

Menendez Amendment #SA5754 limits the transfer of F-16’s and F-16 upgrade kits to Turkey, stating:

The President may not sell or authorize a license for the export of new F-16 aircraft or F-16 upgrade technology or modernization kits pursuant to any authority provided by the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.) to the Government of Turkey, or to any agency or instrumentality of Turkey, unless the President provides to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the congressional defense committees a certification–

(1) that such transfer is in the national interest of the United States; and

(2) that includes a detailed description of concrete steps taken to ensure that such F-16s are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.

The amendment mirrors Amendment #399 to the U.S. House version of the NDAA, led by Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Frank Pallone, adopted by a vote of 244-179 in July.  In addition to the ANCA, the following U.S. civil society organizations are on the record opposing the sale F-16s to Turkey: American Friends of Kurdistan, American Jewish Committee, Hellenic American Leadership Council, In Defense of Christians, Middle East Forum, and PSEKA – International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus.

The Senate version of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act is set to be considered as early as the week of October 11th.  The ANCA is encouraging Senators to cosponsor the amendments in the run-up to the final consideration of the measure.

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