President Biden notified Congress that he is extending a waiver that allows US military aid to Azerbaijan despite recent fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The waiver applies to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and has been renewed every year since 2002.
The waiver requires the Secretary of State to ensure that the military aid would not contribute to conflict in the region. But US military assistance to Baku in recent years almost certainly played a role in fueling the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that broke out last year that killed thousands, and pushed back ethnic Armenian forces.
While the US claimed to be neutral in the fighting between Armenian and Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, it delivered a disproportionate amount of aid to the Azeri side. The Trump administration presided over a significant increase in military aid to Azerbaijan. From 2016 to 2017, the Azeris received $3 million in aid from the US. From 2018 to 2019, the number increased to around $100 million. To compare numbers, in 2018, Armenia only received $4.2 million in security aid from the US.
Azerbaijan also enjoyed strong support from NATO-member Turkey and used Israeli drones and cluster bombs in the fighting. Last month, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited what he called a “park of trophies” that displayed hundreds of helmets that belonged to ethnic Armenian soldiers who were killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting.
When the fighting was raging in Nagorno-Karabakh last fall, and Biden was running for president, he called on President Trump to cut off military assistance to Azerbaijan. Biden released a statement that said Trump should “fully implement and not waive requirements under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to stop the flow of military equipment to Azerbaijan.”