BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
With each passing day, the Armenian-American community is getting increasingly disappointed with Pres. Joe Biden’s anti-Armenian actions. He has done more harm than good to Armenia’s interests.
Last year, 24 hours before acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, Pres. Biden waived Section 907 of the U.S. Freedom Support Act, thus allowing the United States to provide various types of aid to Azerbaijan, including ‘security’ assistance.
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that from 2002 to 2020 the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy, and the U.S. Agency for International Development provided to Azerbaijan $808 million in U.S. aid, of which $164 million (20 percent) was for ‘security’ assistance. On March 31, 2022, the American Ambassador to Baku proudly tweeted that the U.S. Department of Defense just donated $30 million of ‘equipment’ to Azerbaijan. It makes no sense whatsoever, to provide assistance to oil-rich Azerbaijan which is plush with billions of petrodollars. This is a complete waste of U.S. taxpayers’ money.
During a recent hearing, when Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken why the State Department failed to report to Congress the impact of the assistance to Baku on the military balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Blinken gave an evasive answer by promising to look into it.
Even though previous presidents had also waived Section 907, thus providing assistance to filthy rich Azerbaijan, Joe Biden, during his 2020 presidential campaign, boldly criticized Pres. Donald Trump for waiving Section 907. Yet, within three months of becoming President, he did the same thing as Trump.
What is the point of acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and then providing weapons to Azerbaijan to continue killing Armenians, as was the case in the 2020 war? What is needed is action, not empty words.
Another blunder of the Biden administration is not enforcing the ban on the transfer of U.S. weapons to third countries. The prime example of this violation is the use of U.S. F-16 military jets by Turkey in Azerbaijan during the 2020 Artsakh war. In addition, the U.S. did not ban the sale of U.S. parts in the Bayraktar Turkish drones which played a key role in the 2020 war.
The Biden administration reduced aid to Armenia to $24 Million and allocated a pitiful amount of humanitarian assistance to thousands of displaced Armenians from Artsakh, while acknowledging that they are in an “acute humanitarian crisis.”
Other shortcomings of the Biden administration are:
- Did not pressure Azerbaijan to release immediately the Armenian prisoners from Baku jails, after the end of the 2020 war.
- Did not condemn Turkey’s recruitment and transfer of Islamist terrorists to participate in the 2020 Artsakh war on behalf of Azerbaijan.
- Did not criticize the incursion of Azeri troops into Armenia’s territory since May 12, 2021.
- Failed to take action regarding the massive human rights violations by Azerbaijan and Turkey, while Pres. Biden hypocritically talks about human rights being a core tenet of U.S. foreign policy.
Instead, we hear repeated U.S. calls in support of “Armenia-Turkey reconciliation” and “peace agreement with Azerbaijan,” which are contrary to Armenia’s national interests.
Amazingly, the Biden administration just informed Congress that it supports the sale to Turkey of missiles, radar, and electronics for its existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets. In addition, Turkey has asked for the purchase of 40 new F-16 jets.
The Biden administration is wrong that the proposed arms sale to Turkey “serves NATO’s interests.” In fact, this sale faces an uphill battle in Congress as 60 Members of Congress have expressed their vehement opposition.
Contrary to the Biden administration’s assertion, the proposed arms sale to Turkey will undermine U.S. and NATO interests for the following reasons:
- The F-16 jets will be used by Turkey in Syria and Iraq to bomb Kurdish fighters who are U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS terrorists, whom Turkey supports.
- Turkey will use the F-16’s to continue its illegal intrusions into the territorial waters of Greece, a NATO member.
- Turkey will use the F-16 jets to threaten the territorial integrity of Armenia.
- Turkey continues to occupy Northern Cyprus ever since 1974 and refuses to leave despite scores of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
- The United States sanctioned Turkey and blocked the sale of F-35 U.S. advanced fighter jets for purchasing S-400 Russian missiles, contrary to NATO’s interests.
Finally, at a time when NATO countries, including the United States, are confronting Russia in Ukraine, the governments of Finland and Sweden have asked to join NATO. Except for Turkey, all other NATO members are in favor of the expedited memberships of Finland and Sweden. Pres. Erdogan announced that his country will veto the membership applications of these two countries, using the ridiculous argument that Finland and Sweden are “home to many terrorist organizations,” meaning Kurdish refugees. This is highly ironic coming from a country like Turkey which for years supported ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
By opposing Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO memberships, Turkey hopes to achieve the following aims:
- To cater to Russia with which it has important military and commercial ties. Turkey is the only NATO member that has refused to sanction Russia and close its airspace to Russian planes. Turkey is Russia’s mole inside NATO.
- To extract concessions from the United States to purchase arms and gain political support in return for allowing the applications of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
It is clear that Turkey, Russia’s ally, does not belong in NATO. Before Pres. Biden decides to sell F-16 jets to Turkey, I suggest that he read The Washington Post editorial published on April 29, 2022, titled: “Turkey reaches a new low of despotism.”