On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan in the fighting between Baku and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh that has been raging since September 27th.
“We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight,” Pompeo said.
Turkey has been very vocal in its support for Baku since the clashes began. Ankara has been accused of sending fighters from northern Syria to support its ally in the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. And reports show Turkish arms sales to Azerbaijan surged just before the battle began.
“The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation,” Pompeo said.
So far, the US has remained relatively neutral in the conflict. A Russia-brokered ceasefire that quickly fell apart was meant to foster more substantive negotiations that would have been mediated by the US, Russia, and France, who co-chair the Minsk Group. The group was set up in 1992 to encourage a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh during a war that killed tens of thousands until a truce was reached in 1994.
But the US does favor Azerbaijan in one way. Washington provides Baku with much more military aid than it does Armenia, which is a relatively new policy. President Trump presided over a major increase in security aid to Azerbaijan. From 2016 to 2017, the Azeris received $3 million in security aid from the US. From 2018 to 2019, the number increased to around $100 million, compared to the $4.2 million given to Armenia in 2018.
Armenian-Americans and some Democrats in Congress have called on the Trump administration to suspend military aid to Azerbaijan.