US senator moves against Turkish defense exports, Azerbaijan
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also known for this ties to the U.S.’ Greek and Armenian lobbies, on Thursday introduced measures to put Turkey’s drone program under harsh scrutiny and deny any further aid to Azerbaijan.
Menendez’ proposed changes to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) seek to tighten US government tracking and reporting on the national security implications of Turkey’s UAV (drone) exports and prevent further exceptions to bypass a 1992 law banning US military assistance to of Azerbaijan.
The senator has claimed that Turkey’s drone sales are “dangerous, destabilizing and a threat to peace and human rights.”
Mentioning how Turkish drones played a critical role in Azerbaijan’s fall 2020 liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation, Menendez pointed out how Poland, a NATO member, Morocco and Ukraine, both allies of the West, also purchased Turkish drones.
Several other countries have expressed interest in purchasing Turkish drones, he said, including Angola, Niger, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
Menendez’ proposed changes would require the US state and defense departments to probe whether Turkish drones contain US-made parts or technology.
They would also require the State Department to determine whether Turkey’s exports are a violation of the Arms Export Control Act or any other U.S. law or sanctions.
On Azerbaijan, Menendez is pushing to stop any more exceptions to a 1992 law banning US military assistance to of Azerbaijan. The 1992 law in question bans most assistance to Azerbaijan “until it takes demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Liberation of Karabakh
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 last year, with the Armenian army attacking civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and some 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
Prior to this, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory was under illegal occupation.
The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10, 2020 with the cease-fire seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.
Two months later, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region.
It also included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.