"Azerbaijan is an important power in the South Caucasus by reason of its geographic location and ample energy resources, but it faces challenges to its stability, including the unresolved separatist conflict involving Nagorno Karabakh (NK). Azerbaijan enjoyed a brief period of independence in 1918-1920, after the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Empire. However, it was re-conquered by Red Army forces and thereafter incorporated into the Soviet Union. It re-gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. […] According to the Obama Administration, U.S. assistance for Azerbaijan aims to develop democratic institutions and civil society, support the growth of the non-oil sectors of the economy, strengthen the interoperability of the armed forces with NATO, increase maritime border security, and bolster the country's ability to combat terrorism, corruption, narcotics trafficking, and other transnational crime. […] After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan granted overflight rights and approved numerous landings and refueling operations at Baku's civilian airport in support of U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan. More recently, the country is a major land, air, and sea conduit of the Northern Distribution Network for supplies in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan has contributed troops for the ISAF since 2003. The country increased its contingent from 45 to 90 personnel in 2009, including medical and civil affairs specialists. From 2003 to 2008, about 150 Azerbaijani troops participated in the coalition stabilization force for Iraq."
CRS Report for Congress, 97-522