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Source: United States House of Representatives – Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)

September 30, 2020

Press Release

Washington, DCToday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) condemned the surprise military assault by the government of Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, against Nagorno Karabakh. There are already over 100 casualties reported, a majority of which are civilians.

“Azerbaijan’s violation of the 1994 Bishkek Protocols ceasefire by attacking Nagorno Karabakh is undermining hope for a diplomatic solution to this longstanding conflict. The United States must urge Azerbaijan to immediately end their attacks and Turkey to cease its involvement both directly through the use of its armed forces and indirectly by sending Al-Qaeda associated proxies to wipe out Nagorno Karabakh’s Armenian population — a tactic Turkey used against Syrian Kurds,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “I visited Nagorno Karabakh and heard firsthand of their commitment to upholding the ceasefire and working with international parties to achieve a lasting peace agreement. This attack by Azerbaijan and Turkey has cost the lives of civilians and threatens to bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia which has a defensive treaty with Armenia.”

Background: Early Sunday morning on September 27, local time, military forces of the government of Azerbaijan struck out at Nagorno Karabakh along its border, including the Nagorno Karabakh capital, Stepanakert. Since then, Azerbaijan has expanded its attack to include the Republic of Armenia hitting villages along its western border with Armenia, north of Nagorno Karabakh and along the border between Nakhchivan, a part of Azerbaijan separated by the southern part of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

There are reports of shelling and attacks by unarmed aerial vehicles as well as accusations that Turkey — which has sided with Azerbaijan in its dispute with Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia — has participated in the assault. Reuters and The Guardian note that Turkey was secretly attempting to move Al-Qaeda associated fighters it had used against the U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria to Azerbaijan in anticipation of the attack. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that a Turkish F-16 flying from a base in Azerbaijan had shot down a Republic of Armenia fighter over Armenia’s airspace, away from Nagorno Karabakh. This follows earlier reports that Turkish F-16s were involved in the early assault on Nagorno Karabakh.

This reported action marks a military attack by a NATO country using NATO arms against Armenia, a country that has friendly relations with the United States, hosts one of the largest American embassies in the region, and is a participant in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program.

Though a tenuous peacefire has existed between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan since the early 1990s after Nagorno Karabakh declared its independence, Azerbaijan has repeatedly threatened to go to war to wrest control from its local Armenian population. It has since breached the ceasefire on several occasions by military assaults and sniper fire which has targeted military positions and non-combatants alike. Azerbaijan’s long-standing and current President, Ilham Aliev, has even threatened to shoot down civilian airlines flying into Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan has been supported in his fight by its regional ally, Turkey. Turkey’s president took to social media to declare solidarity with Azerbaijan and reports indicate that Turkey is transporting Islamic militant fighters from northern Syria — which it had used against Syrian Kurds — to support Azerbaijan’s forces.

In 2017, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard visited Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and part of a Congressional delegation led by the Congressional Armenian Caucus. During her visit she met with public and community leaders as well as academics to discuss issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and Armenia and opportunities to strengthen ties between the countries.

During her visit she witnessed the lasting impact that the Armenian Genocide had on Armenians in the region as well as the diaspora — including in the United States — and observed their resilience in the face of genocide denial and the struggle to maintain independence in Nagorno Karabakh.

About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard…

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