WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian Council of America (ACA) fully supports several key amendments to HR 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2023 (FY23) that would block security and US military assistance to Azerbaijan, stop the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, and insist on the return of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians illegally detained by Azerbaijan. The amendments are expected to be reviewed by the Rules Committee as early as Tuesday, July 12.
“We are delighted to see that so many pro-American and pro-Armenian amendments have been proposed by such a large bipartisan group of American representatives,” Armenian Council of America (ACA) Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian said. “We commend the Champions of the Armenian Caucus for spearheading these common-sense amendments and urge Congress to join them in voting to include these amendments in the fiscal year 2023 NDAA.”
The pro-Armenia/pro-Artsakh amendments to the FY2023 NDAA Bill are as follows:
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) submitted two amendments to limit the sale of F-16 and F-16 retrofit kits to Turkey in response to the Biden administration’s growing malleability to follow through on such a sale , and to prohibit the United States from selling arms to a NATO member who has repeatedly violated the airspace, sovereignty or territorial integrity of another NATO member unless Congress receives certification that this country no longer engages in such activity. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY- 12) were the bipartisan co-leads and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) co-sponsored the amendments .
Rep. Pappas’ proposed amendments are bolstered by a bipartisan letter to President Biden dated July 8, 2022, which opposes the potential sale of next-generation F-16 fighter jets and F upgrade kits. -16 to Turkey. The letter, led by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) along with Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Dina Titus (D- NV) claims that the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has repeatedly used its military power to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the South Caucasus and North Africa for years”. The letter, which highlights Turkish war crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by Erdogan, warns that “the United States must no longer provide support to the Turkish military until tangible measures are not taken to end its destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad”. .” The letter goes on to warn that “selling advanced US fighter jets to Turkey will not make Erdogan suddenly turn into a good ally. More likely, these weapons will cause further death and destruction in the region.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) provided two amendments to the NDAA that bolster U.S. political interests in the South Caucasus region. One prohibits U.S. security assistance from being transferred to the Azeri government’s security or defense forces, while the other is an amendment that would require detailed reporting and accountability of any U.S. assistance provided to the Azerbaijan under the Freedom Support Section 907 waiver provisions. Law, including an “assessment of Azerbaijan’s use of offensive force against Armenia or violations of Armenian sovereign territory from November 11, 2020”. Both amendments are supported by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).
Bipartisan amendment by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), seconded by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Frank Pallone (D -NJ), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), request that a report on Azerbaijan’s warmongering activities in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in 2020 to be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense (in coordination with the Secretary of State).
Speaker James McGovern’s (D-MA) amendment amends reporting to Congress under the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Accountability Act to include steps taken to address the underlying causes of the conduct sanctioned and to pursue legal accountability in the appropriate jurisdictions for sanctioned persons or entities.
A bipartisan amendment brought by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone prohibits the US Department of Defense from providing funding to Azerbaijan under the Section 333 program Building Partner Capacity. It is co-sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. David Cicilline (D – RI), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Grace Meng (D-CA) – NY), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Connie Conway (R-CA).
Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) amendment requires a report within 90 days of its enactment that contains an assessment of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon (with a focus on the malnourished and food insecurity), as well as the impact of lower wheat imports into the country due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led a bipartisan amendment that demands Azerbaijan release all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians resulting from the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). This amendment is co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Tony Cardenas ( D-CA), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Rep. Katherine Clark ( D-MA).
The Armenian Council of America will continue to advocate for a sound U.S. foreign policy that advances the best interests of America and Armenia in the South Caucasus region and that promotes greater cooperation between the United States, Armenia and Artsakh.
As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering information, analysis and resources on Armenia to policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating on issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen US-Armenia and US-Artsakh ties, developing programs that foster sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship.