Politics 13:30 04/05/2021 Region

The National Interest: Blinken’s cynicism post-genocide recognition emboldens further aggression

Resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Michael Rubin has authored an article in the National Interest about the consequences of the waiver of the Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to enable continued military aid to Azerbaijan.

It notes that Armenians and the Armenian diaspora in the United States celebrated President Joe Biden’s formal recognition of the Ottoman-era genocide against Anatolia’s Armenian population which was important not only for historical justice but also because Turkish and Azerbaijani actions and rhetoric suggested a desire to continue the genocide.

"Just two days later, Armenians and the U.S. Congress learned not from the State Department but rather from Azeri media that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had quietly waived Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to enable continued military aid to Azerbaijan despite in contravention of both the letter and spirit of the law. The move represents State Department cynicism at its worst and, rather than assuage both sides, will hemorrhage trust, further reduce American influence across the region, and could actually increase the likelihood for renewed conflict," the author wrote. 

According to Rubin, many opponents of Biden’s Armenian genocide recognition opposed the move for one of four reasons, among them  questioning whether the Young Turk leaders in the Ottoman Empire planned and coordinated the genocide, exaggeration of the atrocities despite the numerous accounts of Turks’ deliberate slaughter of Armenians, the frequent national liberation movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by Armenians and finally for the assumption that United States needs Turkey and Azerbaijan as a bulwark against Russia. The author next elaborated on the justification of the Section 907 waiver. 

"Azerbaijan and Turkey’s surprise September invasion of Armenian-held portion of Nagorno-Karabakh certainly hampered “ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” Aliyev dismissed the idea of further negotiations after his territorial re-conquest and then belittled on Azeri television the American co-chair of the Minsk Group, the organization charged with negotiating a diplomatic resolution to the problem. There could be no more clear violation. Nor does the realist desire to embrace Azerbaijan as a counter-terror hub make sense given Aliyev’s acceptance and utilization of Syrian mercenaries, some of whom fought for Al Qaeda-affiliated groups or the Islamic State. 

Blinken knew he was wrong. If he thought he could easily defend his actions, then he would not have surprised Congress but made his case openly. Perhaps within the State Department, diplomats argued that waiving Section 907 and continuing foreign aid and military assistance was necessary to keep Azerbaijan at the bargaining table. Put aside the violation of U.S. law and the insult to Congress. In reality, what Blinken’s waiver does is undercut future diplomacy for it sets a new standard that Azerbaijan can expect to act without consequence so long as they kill fewer than seven thousand men and only displace a few hundred thousand.

Further, Blinken signals to Azerbaijan that it will face no consequence—and, indeed, reap a reward—for holding a couple hundred prisoners-of-war long after the date on which they were to be released. In effect, what Blinken and his Caucasus team have done is undercut the possibility of meaningful diplomacy and rewarded terror and hostage-taking. Nor will the ramifications be limited to the South Caucasus. Blinken, with one fell swoop, has not only undercut the moral clarity and emphasis on human rights tied to the Armenian genocide resolution, but he has also signaled not only to Azerbaijan but also to Turkey, Russia, Iran, and other aggressors that the State Department stands for nothing and U.S. law without meaning.

Moral equivalency is not sophisticated. For the United States’ position in the world, it can be disastrous," the author concluded. 


Source Panorama.am
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