American Philanthropy: U.S. triggers "Section 907" as loses "Garabagh Card" -ANALYSIS

American Philanthropy: U.S. triggers "Section 907" as loses "Garabagh Card" -ANALYSIS
# 21 November 2023 13:52 (UTC +04:00)

The US Congress passed the Freedom Support Act (FSA) in 1992 to support the independence of the new republics that emerged after the collapse of the USSR. This law provided for direct assistance in order to ensure economic and political stability, promote economic growth and the creation of new jobs, and support the transition to a market economy in the countries in question. Of course, the USA's own national interests stood behind this benevolence. For example, the goals of the law could be to support the development of new republics and prevent them from being subordinated to a single center again, to spread the influence of the United States among the former Soviet republics, to gain leverage, and so on. In any case, any foreign aid was vital for the new republics trying to strengthen their independence, including Azerbaijan.

However, under such historical and political conditions, under the pressure of the Armenian lobby in the United States, on October 24, 1992, an amendment to section 907 of the law was adopted, prohibiting any direct assistance from the United States to the government of Azerbaijan. The acceptance of the amendment was based on Azerbaijan's blockade of Armenia and the use of force against Garabagh. This decision coincided with the time when the Azerbaijani army launched an attack with tactical success, although this attack had no effect on the general course of the war and its subsequent fate.

With the adoption of "Section 907", Azerbaijan became the only country among the post-Soviet republics deprived of US aid.

The course of events has repeatedly proven that "Section 907" is an unfair and biased step that serves Armenian national interests. Until January 1993, when the law came into force, Armenia and the separatists it supported occupied Shushan, the last city it controlled within the administrative borders of Azerbaijan's former Nagorno-Garabagh Autonomous Province, as well as Lachi, and committed genocide against the civilian population in Khojaly. Just two years after the adoption of the amendment, Armenia completed the occupation of 7 surrounding regions of Azerbaijan, including Garabagh, turned more than 1 million Azerbaijanis into refugees and IDPs living under harsh conditions, and blockaded Nakhchivan.

The severe form of the conditions specified as the basis for the adoption of the amendment was repeatedly applied by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Moreover, Armenia was identified as an occupying country by UN resolutions. Despite all this, the USA did not take any punitive measures against Armenia. On the contrary, prejudice was still continued against Azerbaijan, the initiatives put forward to cancel "Section 907" in order to implement assistance more effectively to Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs living in difficult humanitarian conditions were not supported. Instead, new attacks were made against Azerbaijan, attempts were made to disrupt the process of canceling the amendment with various provocations. For example, in September 1996, Garabagh was mentioned as an independent party in the "Porter Addendum" "providing assistance to Azerbaijan" prepared by Senator John Porter from the Democratic Party. However, thanks to the efforts of the Azerbaijani authorities, the adoption of the supplement was prevented.

As a result, during the next 8 years of regaining independence, Azerbaijan was deprived of US aid. Instead, until 1996, the amount of direct aid provided to Armenia amounted to 600 million dollars. Thomas Goltz's 1996 article entitled "A Montana Perspective on International Aid and Ethnic Politics in Azerbaijan" gave extensive descriptions of these injustices.

In general, it would be very naive to approach direct aid of the US to other countries from the perspective of "modest philanthropy". US officials clearly state that the main purpose of these aids is to ensure America's own national interests. For example, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O'Brien, at the hearing held at the Foreign Affairs Committee on November 15 this year, admitted that the allocation of aid to Azerbaijan within the framework of the waiver of "Section 907" (temporary suspension of its legal force) was based on the interests of the United States.

If we look at the general picture, we see that there are two main ways that the US allocates billions of dollars in foreign aid to other countries. The first of these is carried out on the basis of the planning and order of the US government, special services, foreign policy institutions, and organizations such as USAID. At this time, goals such as expanding the sphere of influence of the United States, protecting its interests, and forming various networks that will serve the interests of the United States in the target countries are set.

The second way stems from the democratic gaps in the United States when lobbying and interest groups incite the authorities to allocate aid to other countries through various means. For example, the fact that Senator Bob Menendez, who has been making rude and biased statements against Azerbaijan for many years, tried to increase the amount of US aid to Egypt in exchange for a bribe he received from an Egyptian businessman was recently revealed. Hands down, because senators like Menendez consider the million dollars directed to their funds (read - pockets) and election campaigns more valuable than the billion dollars lost from the state budget, such foolish spending can happen. Approached by the logic of the state, unlike the first way, this is completely against the interest of US citizens and naturally leads to criminal liability. Just as Menendez was humiliatingly removed as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This process can also go in reverse - for example, in the example of "Section 907". Lobby groups receive various pledges from politicians who need large funds for the election campaign, support them, make "donations" and form gratitude that they will use them for their future political activities. Sometimes, these interests are applied not through donations, but in exchange for gifts, thanks, and bribes.

If the events that happened around “Section 907” previously raised doubts about Washington's bias towards Azerbaijan, now it confirms it. After all, the U.S. did not do it because it was "concerned" for Azerbaijan in 2002 when it gave the President the authority to waive the amendment. This happened after the large-scale military operations after the events of September 11, which then-President George W. Bush called a "crusade" in his address to the people. Congress had given the President the authority to temporarily suspend the legal force of the law because of Azerbaijan's assistance in the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by allowing this country's aircraft to use its airspace.

However, there is a significant difference in the U.S. aid to Azerbaijan and Armenia after 2002. For example, in 1992-2005, the U.S. provided $1.6 billion in aid to Armenia and $600 million to Azerbaijan.

Now, in the historical conditions where peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan was this close for the first time, "Section 907" is again being used as a tool of pressure against Baku for political purposes in the U.S.

Unfortunately, this discrimination of Washington puts its mediation in the same category as Paris. However, it is more important for peace that the U.S. stops supporting the separatists and quits speaking from their position before burning all the bridges. Azerbaijan has long been waiting for sincerity from Washington in the context of Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization. However, it seems that because it has lost the “Garabagh card”, the U.S. has now started using “Section 907” as a tool.

Unfortunately, all these are among the factors that undermine Azerbaijan's confidence in the mediation of the West. It’s no coincidence that the Official Baku now believes that regional peace should be sought in the region. It is worth reminding that a few days ago, in his statement to the journalists, The Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan - Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev stated that peace and regional security is not in Brussels, Paris, Washington or any other place, but in the region.

Of course, this approach did not appear suddenly, the reasons for this are, first of all, the disappointment caused by the mediation of Western countries. The reasons for this should be sought in the biased statements and steps taken by Western governments under the influence of various interests. It is extremely clear that the failure of the mediation institutes of the West in the South Caucasus was primarily caused by their discrimination and prejudice against Azerbaijan, and their attempts to disguise the occupation of Armenia in a thousand different ways. In this regard, the West has a huge share in this conflict resulting in the bloody clashes in 2020, because if the mediating efforts were sincere, the issue could have been resolved peacefully long ago. In this regard, we can say that the U.S. and the European Union taking specific biased steps instead of impartiality in the current historical political conditions does not serve peace in the region at all. The West should draw conclusions from its mistakes by considering its actions until 2020, and evaluate this new era based on new realities, not emotions.