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Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard Urges US Congress to Expel Turkey From NATO

© AP Photo / Mary AltafferDemocratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Manchester, N.H.
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. - Sputnik International
The predominantly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 and announced plans to join Armenia. This led to a major war between Yerevan and Baku that lasted until 1994, when the sides agreed to start peace talks on the dispute mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, headed by Russia, the US, and France.

US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has submitted a resolution to the US House of Representatives calling for the expulsion of Turkey from the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO), the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) said on Facebook.

The document published by ANCA claims that Turkey is openly supporting Azerbaijan in the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, an breakaway enclave that proclaimed independence from Baku after the breakdown of the Soviet Union and has since sought international recognition. 

The document also says that Ankara has sent Syrian fighters, many of whom have been associated with banned terror groups Al Qaeda and Daesh*, to fight against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh.

These claims have been strongly denied by Turkey.

Speaking on 14 October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "Those who say we sent the mujahadeen there from Syria. We don't have any such agenda.  We are here to help our Azerbaijani brothers with all kinds of support and we will continue providing it."

Turkey has nonetheless pledged its "unwavering" support to Azerbaijan since hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh resumed late last month, and earlier this month, Erdogan urged Baku to continue to pursue its offensive in the area.

"Azerbaijan has already liberated a vast territory. I hope it will keep fighting until all its lands in Karabakh are freed," Erdogan said in an address broadcast on Twitter on 2 October.

The ANCA report also says that Turkish F-16 fighters have been engaged in attacks against both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia itself.

But Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly dismissed reports about Turkish military involvement in the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Turkish military involvement is another fake news. There is no military involvement of Turkey. We are using Turkish military equipment: this is true, but we are using military equipment of Russia, Israel and other countries. We buy this military equipment unlike Armenia, which gets it free of charge,” Aliyev noted.

He added that some Turkish F-16 fighters had been deployed to Azerbaijan since the joint drills, but they were not involved in the hostilities.

NATO founding member Canada has stopped supplying weapons to Turkey due to Ankara's alleged involvement in the conflict.

Tulsi Gabbard is a member of the US House of Representatives from the second constituency of Hawaii (since 2013). She is a major in the US National Guard and a veteran of the Iraq War. Gabbard opposes the policy of US military intervention in the affairs of sovereign states, and has been critical of US policy in Iraq, Libya and Syria. In 2017, she secretly visited Syria and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The decades-old conflict in Nagorno Karabakh flared up again on 27 September, when Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of carrying out provocations along the line of contact.

Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-brokered humanitarian ceasefire, but exchanges of fire have continued since then.

Turkey and Greece became a member of NATO in 1952, as part of the first enlargement movement of the organization. It first fought besides NATO members in the Korean War that lasted from 1950-1953.

*Terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.

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