Letter from the USAN to the all the staff members of the U.S. Congress as well as all the Members of Congress about the June 17 vote by the Appropriations Subcommittee on aid levels to Azerbaijan, Armenia
Dear Congressional staff member,
As your offices will consider the FY 2010 State-Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill, we at the U.S. Azeris Network (USAN), a grassroots advocacy nonprofit network, have submitted our testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations (SFO), and write that your office takes into the account the national and security interests of the United States, as well as the wishes of the Azerbaijani-American community and considers the below information. We are very disappointed with the voting this morning by the House SFO Subcommittee, which reversed Administration’s requests and has ignored the national and security interests of the United States. We urge the Congress to keep the aid in line with President Obama’s request, specifically to:
1) increase FMF funding for Azerbaijan above the current $3 million, since US national interests and Pentagon assessments necessitate to give several times more (about $8 million) in FMF aid to its strategic ally in the region, and to increase IMET aid to Azerbaijan (currently $900,000);
2) decrease economic aid to Armenia closer to the level of assistance to Azerbaijan at $19,5 million (instead of $48 million marked-up by the House Subcommittee), since that nation already receives $236 million in Millennium Challenge (MCC) funds whilst recently holding exceptionally poor municipal and presidential elections during which hundreds of people were killed or wounded. Since then the situation has worsened, Armenia has received another warning from the MCC and declined in all civil and business liberty rankings. In time of financial crisis it is not the time to reward such countries as Armenia for very poor performance;
3) absolutely NO direct aid to the Armenia-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) region of Azerbaijan should be given. The NK regime are a military junta that occupied 16% of Azerbaijan, killed 20,000 civilians, displaced 800,000 and should not be rewarded with direct US aid.
It should be stressed that direct US assistance to the occupied NK region creates and will further exacerbate the undue concern in allied Azerbaijan and especially among the Azerbaijani-Americans and their friends. Most importantly, any kind of direct assistance to the NK region inspires speculation that the United States is taking sides with Armenia, undermining its OSCE Minsk Group co-chair status, and attempting to change the NK region's status and promote separatism. As you know, the NK region is recognized by the US, as well as the UN and all other international organizations and states as an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Despite the US Administration and Pentagon making determinations and assessments since 2002-2009 that Azerbaijan, which is on the forefront of the war against terror, needs more in FMF and IMET aid than Armenia, the aid was always equalized under the pretext of "parity" with Armenia, whose level of support for the US troops, and thus, assessed need, is several times less than Azerbaijan's. We urge you to keep or increase the need-based amounts for Azerbaijan, so that our troops could do their job more effectively with the Azerbaijani military. Doing otherwise undermines US national security, and its image in the Muslim world in general, and in Azerbaijan in particular -- the only predominantly Shi'a, but secular ally of USA.
As a network of Americans of Azerbaijani origin, we urge you to consider Azerbaijan's serious concerns during the full Committee mark up and full floor voting process. The Armenia-Azerbaijan NK conflict is the most critical issue for Azerbaijan and regional stability, and Azerbaijan being a strategic ally of the US, with peacekeeping troops serving in Afghanistan, makes us sincerely hope and believe that our Congress will pay due attention to the concerns of its own national interest, to its strategic ally and to its citizens and voters, the Azeri-Americans and their friends, and will thus keep the need-based amounts of humanitarian, economic and especially military assistance, as well as NOT reward NK occupation by Armenian military with a whopping $10 million in direct aid. Thank you.
For helpful information on the Caucasus region, you can view the following factsheets:
The U.S. Azeris Network (USAN) <http://www.usazeris.org/> is a registered non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian genuine grassroots advocacy and voter education network that is facilitating political activism and efforts by the Azerbaijani-Americans and other Turkic-Americans and their associations, organizations, councils, conferences, and other formal, semi-formal and informal groups, on federal, state and local levels. USAN is the first nationwide grassroots organization uniting Azerbaijani-Americans, being created by the grassroots, for the grassroots.