After a U.S. Congressional committee held a hearing critically examining U.S.-Azerbaijan relations, Azerbaijan's parliament responded with a retaliatory event of its own, accusing the U.S. of ignoring Baku's strategic cooperation with Washington.
On February 12, the House's Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats held a hearing, "Azerbaijan: U.S. Energy, Security, and Human Rights Interests." As expected, members of Congress and American experts on Azerbaijan criticized Baku for its accelerating crackdown on any opposing voices in the country, including the raid on and closure of the U.S. government-funded RFE/RL office.
Baku has been increasingly vocal in its criticism of the U.S., and this time took the step of organizing its own counter-hearing just two days later, "Energy and Security Cooperation: Partnership Based on Mutual Interests." Azerbaijani opposition website contact.az noted that government officials in Baku resent what they see as ingratitude for the contributions that they make to U.S. security interests:
The head of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations Samad Seyidov described relations between the two countries 'strategic partnership'. He further spoke about the support that Azerbaijan provides to Washington and how the US does not appreciate this.
Azerbaijan and the United States cooperate closely in combating international terrorism, through Azerbaijan there is transit for coalition forces in Afghanistan, the Azerbaijani servicemen are in the coalition, providing airport security in Kabul. In addition, Azerbaijan provides energy security of Western countries.
"Therefore, we expect a fair and adequate treatment from the United States, and especially in the Karabakh conflict," Seyidov said, alluding to the bias of the United States in this matter.
One of the witnesses at the Washington hearing, former ambassador to Baku Richard Kauzlarich, was also the subject of an ad hominem takedown in the Azerbaijani press, in which he was accused of being a "loser" with a "weakness for alcohol."
Interestingly, in none of Baku's criticisms of Washington's criticisms was there a defense of Azerbaijan's policies on human rights and dissent. The focus seemed to be solely on Azerbaijan's strategic interest to the U.S. and Washington's shortsightedness in not valuing that over human rights problems. Kauzlarich, that article noted, tries to make the case that Azerbaijan is becoming less important a partner for the U.S., "while officials from his government say the opposite." As long as they are important enough strategically, officials in Baku appear to be thinking, they can get away with whatever they want to do internally.