Rep. Berman concerned that U.S. sale of advanced battlefield surveillance equipment may green-light Azerbaijani aggression
WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America welcomed efforts by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA) to pressure Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stop a proposed sale of military hardware to Azerbaijan, citing that country’s continued war rhetoric and attacks against neighboring Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
In a May 29 letter to Secretary Clinton, Rep. Berman referenced announcements of a sale of military hardware which would be used in conjunction with Azerbaijan’s military helicopter fleet for “border surveillance and ‘police-type’ activities.” In addition to possible attacks against Armenia, Rep. Berman expressed concern about the “message that such a sale would send to the regional parties, both in terms of perceived U.S. even-handedness and in terms of our seriousness about persuading Baku to cease its bellicose rhetoric and agree to Minsk Group co-chair demands that it remove its snipers from the ‘line of contact’ in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”
The complete text of the letter is provided below.
“Rep. Berman’s concerns about the sale of military equipment to Azerbaijan are timely and well founded – given the Aliyev regime’s repeated and escalating war rhetoric and attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Any sale of such military equipment only serves to arm and embolden a belligerent Azerbaijani government that persists in using threats and acts of aggression to undermine the fundamental right to self-determination of the people of Karabakh, destabilizing an entire region of strategic significance to the United States.”
For a review of the latest Azerbaijani threats and attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, please review the ANCA Fact Sheet:
Text Of Rep. Berman’s Letter To Secretary Clinton
May 29, 2012
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I am writing to express my concern over a proposal by the Department of State to allow the sale of military equipment to Azerbaijan. This proposal is included in case “DDTC 12-002”.
Two months ago, my staff inquired as to the possible use of this equipment by Azerbaijan. Just last week, they were informed that it would be used on existing helicopters to aid in border surveillance and “police-type” activities.
As Azerbaijan shares a border with Armenia, this equipment could be used to identify and possibly target Armenians in the border area for surveillance or for attack. I am also concerned about the message that such a sale would send to the regional parties, both in terms of perceived U.S. even-handedness and in terms of our seriousness about persuading Baku to cease its bellicose rhetoric and agree to Minsk Group co-chair demands that it remove its snipers from the “line of contact” in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
I therefore urge you to alter the proposal and prevent this military equipment from being sold to Azerbaijan.
Howard L Berman