AZERBAIJAN IN PURSUIT OF AMERICAN WEAPONS

AzeriReport
http://azerireport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2872&Ite mid=53
Aug 3, 2011

WASHINGTON DC. August 3, 2011: The US has never been a supplier of
weapons to Azerbaijan. What the Pentagon has done is set up a number
of military training programs with this Caspian country, which focus
on the country's self-defense on the Caspian, border security, as well
as preparing the Azeris for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. TURAN
has learned from Washington DC-based sources, the idea of buying
American weapons was always a red line of the US-Azeri relations.

Recently Azerbaijan again began a serious push to get the US provide
it with "defense weapons," in particular, air defense and anti-tank
systems.

"Azeri lobbyists and their allies in the US capital received a new
assignment from Baku - target getting American weapons for Azerbaijan",
the source said.

"Several years ago, this issue almost defined the US-Azeri
relationship, but back then, Baku

stepped down after understanding that they couldn't afford American
weaponry on their own", one of Azerbaijan's former lobbyists told
TURAN's correspondent, adding, now, Azeri supporters in Washington
are arguing that the oil-reach country doesn't need the US to give
them the weapons as aid, they can buy the weaponry.

Meanwhile, E. Wayne Merry, senior fellow for Europe and Eurasia
at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC, says that
the US has a long-standing policy -- extending over the past three
Administrations -- not to introduce lethal equipment into the regional
conflicts in the Caucasus.

"For that reason, the US does not sell weaponry to either Azerbaijan,
or Armenia. The US does work with both countries in a range of
non-lethal aspects of military-to-military cooperation, either of a
bilateral character or within the Partnership for Peace program of
NATO", Merry, who served in the State and Defense Departments for
many years, told TURAN's Washington DC correspondent.

"Military sales to foreign countries are governed by US law and must
receive approval from the State and Defense Departments so that they
will be consistent with US policies and interests. In the case of
Azerbaijan, as equally with Armenia, the governing policy is not to
contribute to an ongoing conflict through military sales, but to
contribute to a diplomatic solution. What those countries do with
other states is, of course, a matter for them to decide", he added.

Jon Chicky is a military member of the faculty of the National War
College in Washington, DC.

In an interview with TURAN's correspondent, Mr. Chicky explains
more details.

Question: Oil-rich Azerbaijan complains that the US doesn't sell it
weapons and military equipment, although there is high-level security
cooperation between the two countries. In one of his latest statements
president Aliyev mentioned that when it comes to Azerbaijan, the
military cooperation is only formal, and US military weapons, such as
helicopters, airplanes (F-16), Patriot etc. are out of Azerbaijan's
reach. What are the reasons here? Are there any restrictions in the
US laws in terms of selling weapons to countries like Azerbaijan?

Answer: First, I would like to state that views presented in this
interview are my own and do not reflect those of the National Defense
University, the Department of Defense, or the US Government. There
is essentially one reason why Azerbaijan has been unable to acquire
weapon systems from the United States. It is Section 907 of the
FREEDOM Support Act (Public Law 102-511). Section 907 was enacted in
1992 and restricts Azerbaijan from acquiring weapon systems from the
United States. While this piece of legislation has been and remains
controversial, it is the law and can only be repealed by the Congress.

In 2002, Section 907 was amended to where the President of the United
States can waive (both President Bush and Obama have used this waiver
every year since 2002) the restrictions in the original legislation
under the following conditions: "The President may waive section
907 of the FREEDOM Support Act if he determines and certifies to
the Committees on Appropriations that to do so--(A) is necessary to
support United States efforts to counter international terrorism; or
(B) is necessary to support the operational readiness of United States
Armed Forces or coalition partners to counter international terrorism;
or (C) is important to Azerbaijan's border security; and (D) will not

undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement
between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes
against Armenia." Because of the United States' interest in a peaceful
resolution to the Mountainous Karabakh conflict, US officials keep this
final criterion in mind regarding defense cooperation with Armenia
as well, and apply an even-handed approach in their work with the
two countries.

What are the criteria for Azerbaijan to be able to buy the US weapons?

Can any country that has money buy weapons from the US?

There are a myriad of laws, regulations, and provisions that
govern what weapons can be sold and/or provided. The Department
of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs oversees the
government-to-government and commercial company-to-government
transactions. Beyond the legal/legislative aspects of which country
can or cannot acquire US weapons technology, there are other factors
of whether U.S. weapon systems are the right fit for a particular
country. Issues such as purchase costs, compatibility with other
(communication) systems, maintenance costs, etc. For example, if a
country already possessing Soviet-era weapons were to acquire US small
arms (e.g. automatic rifles) then this purchase would necessitate a
large scale purchase of ammunition as US ammunition is of a different
size than what is used in Soviet/Russian weapons. Ammunition is
expensive and given training and operational needs, the ammunition
required for these weapons can be large and thus costly.

When looking at the Caucasus situation, US diplomacy has always
been against weaponisation. Does the US prioritize any of the South
Caucasus countries in terms of military cooperation? Also, what do
you think about the fact that Azerbaijan is buying military weapons
that we've mentioned above from Russia and Iran?

Not surprisingly, much of US security assistance efforts worldwide
are focused on assisting countries who have forces with the NATO
ISAF mission in Afghanistan. All three South Caucasus countries have
contingents in Afghanistan. Given Georgia has the largest contingent
in Afghanistan of the three South Caucasus states it receives the
largest share of the regional defense-military assistance from the US.

This assistance is focused on defense institution building and
coalition operations. As to Azerbaijan's purchase of military equipment
from other countries, Azerbaijan is a sovereign state and it has to
decide what defense systems it needs and from whom. That being said,
Azerbaijan should be cognizant of its Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe (CFE) limits when contemplating future equipment purchases as
well as other international norms and practices.

Although the US doesn't sell weapons to Azerbaijan, American soldiers
have helped Azerbaijan in military modernization. What are the
conditions to enlarge this cooperation?

Essentially, the conditions lie within the defense leadership of
both countries. While the United States may not presently be in a
position to provide major weapons/defense articles to Azerbaijan given
existing US laws, there are other areas where our defense-military
cooperation can exist. As has been reported, there have been
several meetings over the past year seeking ways to expand the
defense-military relationship. One aspect of US defense cooperation
over the past years has been to assist Azerbaijan in achieving its
NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) goals. Another aspect
is to have Azerbaijan send military officers and defense ministry
civilians to US military academic institutions. This is one area
that Azerbaijan could use its own financial resources to acquire
additional student positions in these institutions. A strong command
of English is a major requirement for attendance in our military
colleges and universities. The US and Azerbaijan are also cooperating
in Azerbaijan's efforts to increase its capacity to protect critical
energy infrastructure (Turan).


From: Baghdasarian