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Why America should continue to support Azerbaijan

Why America should continue to support Azerbaijan

If one seeks peace in the Caucuses, then there should be cultural and educational exchanges between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, not boycotts of Azerbaijan.  

Since they declared independence from the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, Azerbaijan has been a strategic partner of the United States.  Although too many Americans may not realize it, Azerbaijan is perhaps the one remaining friendly country that America has in the Caspian basin.  

As a secular multicultural majority Muslim nation that prides itself on its pluralism and religious tolerance, Azerbaijan sent soldiers to help the United States fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has also been a full ally of the United States in the struggle against Islamist extremism, serving as a major transit point for American military supplies to Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

Azerbaijan has also been a strategic partner against Iranian hegemony in the Middle East, as their recent war against Armenia fundamentally weakened Iran as Armenia’s main road to the Islamic Republic was cut off, which adversely affected the mullah’s economy, forcing the Iranians to contemplate creating alternative trade routes.    It is critical to note that only an economically weakened Iran can be convinced to end its nuclear program that threatens the entire world.  Thus, the results of the Second Karabakh War where Iran got weakened in the Caspian Sea worked to America’s advantage.   

Yet following the recent border tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, American Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the US to cut military aid to Azerbaijan despite all of these important facts.  However, to take such a measure would be detrimental to the United States.  

According to the Armenian lobbyist group ANCA, “The amendment (#4177) is one of three amendments to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that moves all references to presidential waiver authority of Section 907, a provision first put in place in 2001, and utilized by successive U.S. presidents – including President Biden.  Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act is an Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) -backed measure that would effectively block U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.” 

However, much of America’s aid to Azerbaijan very much serves American interests.  In recent days in an interview with Jam News, American Ambassador to Azerbaijan Lee Litzenberger stated that a number of American companies have expressed interest in helping Azerbaijan to demine the Karabakh region and he hinted that this is important for America’s national security as well: “They are ready to invest where there are appropriate conditions, and above all, open tenders.” 

According to him, American aid has been instrumental in helping Azerbaijan to not only demine but to engage in other defensive actions: “Azerbaijan has been provided with appropriate scanners, X-ray machines and other equipment. They are used not only on land borders, but also in the Caspian to protect marine infrastructure and oil platforms. This equipment allows Azerbaijan to protect its coast and its sea borders.”  The ambassador noted that this these defensive measures are important, as they help Azerbaijan to block the flow of drugs into Europe and other areas of the world, and defend the vital oil industry in the region: “We are interested in maintaining stability on Azerbaijan’s borders.”  

Thus, if US military assistance is cut off to Azerbaijan, then this would adversely affect not only demining efforts, but also Europe’s struggle against the drug trade, jeopardize energy security in the region and would weaken the recently signed peace agreement, which would adversely affect regional security as a whole.  It should be emphasized that one cannot build a stable peaceful secure society if any child who strays from the road to play soccer can get killed in a landmine.  One cannot build up a stable oil industry in the region that imports to America and Europe if there are landmines throughout vast areas of the country.  And most importantly, no peace agreement can last if one side is encouraging boycotts against the other side.

If America truly wants to encourage peace and stability in the Caspian region, then they should ignore Armenian calls for boycotts of Azerbaijan’s military and instead call upon both Armenians and Azerbaijanis to build up academic exchanges between both countries, so that Armenian and Azerbaijani students can study each other’s culture and language.  Only via the existence of cross-cultural exchanges like this can the peace last between both sides.  Encouraging boycotts just undermines peace, demining efforts and the security of Azerbaijan and the region, as it struggles against radical extremism.   Thus, I call upon America to continue to support one of its few allies in the Caspian Sea and to ignore the ANCA initiatives. 

 

Author

Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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