The US intelligence community has definitively identified Azerbaijan as the primary threat to peace in the South Caucasus, in an intelligence report (unclassified version) required by Congress through the legislative leadership of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the civic society support of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Our U.S. intelligence community confirms what we know to be true, that Azerbaijan’s the aggressor,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “This definitive finding by the Director of National Intelligence takes a wrecking ball a longstanding State Department’s false-parity narrative that – against all evidence – emboldens Aliyev’s aggression by answering each new Azerbaijani attack with generic calls, anemic pleas, on all parties to refrain from violence. This intentionally weak policy of artificial evenhandedness –nothing more than outright hostility disguised as neutrality – emboldens Aliyev’s aggression and sets back the cause of a durable and democratic peace.”
The report, released in unclassified form earlier this week, prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), states “In the South Caucasus region, Azerbaijan is the country most likely to renew large-scale conflict in an effort to consolidate and expand the gains it won in its 2020 military action against Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh.”
The report continues, “Azerbaijan in mid-September 2022 initiated a widespread assault along the international border with Armenia, striking as far as 25 miles into Armenian territory. The ceasefire reached on 14 September is largely holding, but could easily fray as each side continues to accuse each other of firing heavy artillery. Despite the September violence, during which at least 207 Armenians and 80 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, internationally brokered diplomatic engagement has resumed, which we assess helps to mitigate the risk of further escalation.”
The report follows Rep. Schiff-led efforts to include ANCA-backed language in the Intelligence Authorization Act, calling for “a report assessing the likelihood of a South Caucasus country taking military action against another country (including in Nagorno-Karabakh or any other disputed territory). Such report shall include an indication of the strategic balance in the region, including with respect to the offensive military capabilities of each South Caucasus country.”