January 20, 2023 - 13:36 AMT
Biden Administration urged to consider airlift to Karabakh, Azerbaijan sanctions

As Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is nearing 40 days, Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders have urged Biden Administration officials to “use maximum pressure on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev” to lift the Artsakh blockade “before the current humanitarian crisis becomes catastrophic,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Azerbaijan has shown time and again that statements of condemnation are insufficient to deter the genocidal Aliyev regime,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “As the Armenian Caucus leaders stated, we need ‘maximum pressure’ by the Biden Administration – starting with cutting all military aid to Azerbaijan, sanctioning Azerbaijani leaders for ongoing war crimes, and an immediate humanitarian airlift to save the people of Artsakh.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA) and Armenian/Assyrian Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) were adamant: “The current international strategy to reopen the Lachin Corridor is simply not working. […] The Aliyev regime is taking premeditated steps to remove the indigenous Armenian population from Artsakh and deprive them of the opportunity to live freely, democratically, and with dignity in the land of their ancestors – a clear sign of ethnic cleansing that must not be ignored.”

The Congressional leaders advised, “the United States must also consider all available options to provide humanitarian aid to Artsakh, including a potential airlift of supplies to prevent the very real threat of starvation.” They also argued that “the threat of sanctions such as Magnitsky Sanctions against the authorities behind this blockade is warranted and appropriate given the grave threat the people of Artsakh are currently facing.”

Hours earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted his “deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh” but stopped short of announcing any meaningful U.S. steps to stop Azerbaijan’s devastating blockade of the 120,000 indigenous Armenian Christians in Artsakh. On January 13th, USAID Administrator Power tweeted, “Each day commercial traffic and humanitarian assistance cannot flow freely to Nagorno-Karabakh, the potential for a humanitarian crisis increases. Free movement through the corridor must be restored.”

While expressing appreciation for the Administration’s remarks, the Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders, noted that statements are not enough. “The Aliyev regime’s blatant disregard for these calls to immediately reopen the corridor is deeply concerning and demonstrates the need to urgently increase international pressure.”

Thousands of Artsakh and human rights supporters have flooded the State Department and USAID phone lines over the past week as part of an ANCA nationwide grassroots campaign demanding concrete U.S. action to airlift emergency humanitarian aid to Artsakh and sanction Azerbaijan, starting with an immediate end to U.S. military assistance to Azerbaijan’s genocidal Aliyev regime.

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