Become a member and enjoy the full possibilities SIB has to offer, now for only 29 euros! Join us to our trip to Geneva in April or our long trip this summer and meet new people at the two weekly drinks. Challange yourself and join a committee and help organising events!
On the 4th of March, we had a masterclass on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The speaker during this event was a freelance photographer, journalist, and Iran expert Reinier Zoutendijk. Interestingly, Mr. Zoutendijk visited our events during his student time. For this masterclass, he sought to answer three questions: (1) “why is it important to study Iran and the Iran-deal in its broader context?”, (2) “what is the impact of the US withdrawing from this deal?”, and (3) “how has this influenced Iran’s international reputation?”.
Mr. Zoutendijk started the evening with a very short history of Iran. Before the Islamic Revolution, Iran was ruled by a monarch (the Shah) from 1953 until 1979. During this period, the monarchy saw a period of industrialization and centralization of power. In sum, the Shah had eliminated almost every part of society. Before 1953, the country was ruled by a Prime Minister. This was Mossadegh and he got ousted in a coup by the British and the Americans, who reinstalled the Shah. The reason for this coup by the Western powers was due to their dissatisfaction of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry.
The second topic was the security doctrine of Iran. Iran deploys the concept of “strategic loneliness” as it sees itself surrounded by enemies. During the Iran-Iraq War, all Arab countries except for Syria supported Saddam Hussein. However, Iraq lost and right now, Iran is repaying its dues to Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The overall strategy of Iran’s security doctrine is to maintain territorial integrity and sovereignty. But, Iran’s military capability is limited. Nevertheless, they have sufficient capabilities and, in addition, apply asymmetrical warfare to protect their borders. The missile program also belongs to these capabilities.
This program together with the nuclear program of Iran was cause for concern for the West. The (Five) Permanent Members of the UN Security Council together with Germany and the EU negotiated a deal that was popularly known as the Iran Deal. It was supposed to regulate the nuclear program of Iran and reintegrate the country into the international community. When Trump became President, he unilaterally retreated from this international deal. But why?
The deal, according to the International Agency for Atomic Energy, was followed to by Iran. The measurements to monitor and control the nuclear facilities of Iran are very high-tech that even include biometrical protection measures. In other words, it is almost impossible for Iran to not adhere to the deal without the IAEA knowing it. However, even though the deal was watertight, the US retreated from the Iran Deal due to its foreign policy of isolating Iran.
The result was an economic crisis that heavily hit Iran. Nevertheless, according to Mr. Zoutendijk, it is not the economy that the Iranians worry about. The Iranians fear a crackdown by the government, especially when the moderate candidate and incumbent president Rouhani loses the upcoming elections.
So what are the Europeans and the Chinese doing? They are busy with setting up a payment method that bypasses the almighty US dollar. Because that is just the problem for the Iranians to engage in international trade: international trade is often conducted in US dollars and the Americans hold tight control over the payments and transactions that are made in US dollars. Thus, by setting up a parallel network that allows for international trade to be done in Euros or barter-like trade, the Europeans and Chinese are trying to circumvent the American grip on Iran. However, this trade is limited to only food(stuffs) and medicine.
In the end, the Iran Deal and political affairs surrounding Iran are very complex. There are many dimensions that all differ in importance and level of cooperation. The current status of the Iran Deal is not necessarily one that is a defeat. Nevertheless, without American support, the Europeans and Chinese are not able to do that much. America still dominates the world and Iran, sooner or later, has to find a way to integrate into the international community again.
— Mehmet Emre Demirkiran, member of the Committee Intellectual Activities
He wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico, he used protectionism to defend US-industries from foreign competition and he withdrew from climate and trade agreements: Donald Trump is probably one of the most controversial political figures at the moment. Last February marked the first half of his Administration. That was opportunity enough for the Committee of Intellectual Activities to organize a lecture on this topic. Two of the most central questions that were discussed: Has Trump really made America great? And what’s going to happen at the next presidential election?
The two speakers were Frans and Paul Verhagen. Frans Verhagen is a journalist that focuses for more than 35 years now on US politics. He has also written two books on the history of the United States. Paul Verhagen is the son of Frans Verhagen and works as a data analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Obviously, the two speakers were a well-experienced team and complimented each other in their explanations: While Frans Verhagen focussed on the domestic politics in the US, Paul Verhagen analyzed the foreign policy of Donald Trump.
Both of them were not soft at judging the past two years of the Trump administration. Frans Verhagen started with analyzing the economic impact his presidency had: Government deficit in the US has increased despite Donald Trump had promised to reduce it, the income inequality has widened due to new tax cuts for the rich, and the purchasing power of US-citizens has not increased in the last years. In addition, many urgent problems remain unresolved or even neglected: There have not been new investments in urgently needed infrastructure, the health insurance Obamacare is slowly deteriorating and student debt is continuing to grow since the financial crisis of 2007.
Paul Verhagen’s analysis of Trump’s foreign policy was not optimistic either but carried with it many ironies and hidden jokes to brighten the mood in the audience. He started by describing the main ingredients for US foreign policy: American interests, values, and enemies. Its interests are America First, which means protecting Americans, Businesses, and Consumers. The values are democracy, freedom and – yes – apple pie. The enemies are those who threaten Americans (Iran, North Korea), challenge America (China) and “the Communists” (Venezuela, Cuba). Needless to say, in between all this, geopolitics matter as well: It is, therefore, no coincidence, that the ports of the powerful US-navy fleet are located right at the chokepoints of major oil routes.
Finally, Frans and Paul Verhagen discussed the question of who might follow after Trump. Names like the democratic politicians Joe Biden, the representative of Texas Beto O’Rourke or even the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, were mentioned. Great attention will be given once again to the Electoral College system, where each state gets a certain number of electors based on its total number of representatives in Congress. Which states will be decisive? “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio”, says Frans Verhagen. One question that probably many in the audience had on their minds finally concludes the evening: What if Trump makes it again? Frans Verhagen is sure: “It’s not gonna happen.”
-Jakob Pallinger, member of the Committee of Intellectual Activities
Top vakanties voor studentenprijzen!
Je zal vast heel vaak horen dat je moet genieten van je studententijd en alles moet doen wat je leuk vindt. Toch heb je als student altijd dat ene probleem; een klein budget… Erg leuk al die tips als ‘geniet van je vrijheid’ en ‘ga lekker veel op reis’, maar hoe kun je met een klein budget toch vaak op een mooie zonvakantie gaan? Dat is slechts een kwestie van flexibel zijn en je ogen open houden!
Op zowat alle social media kanalen kun je verschillende accounts/bedrijven volgen die de allerbeste vakantiedeals verspreiden. Dit is al één van de mogelijkheden om op de hoogte te blijven van de beste vakantie aanbiedingen. Kijk bijvoorbeeld eens bij VakantieDealz.nl! Ook kun je natuurlijk zelf goed op zoek gaan naar jouw ideale vakantie. Let wel op dat de beste aanbiedingen vaak gelden op slechts enkele specifieke data. Om dus te profiteren van de beste reisaanbiedingen, is het belangrijk dat je flexibel bent qua vertrekdata. Als student is dit in principe niet altijd een probleem… Wel zorgen dat je genoeg aanwezig bent bij je verplichte vakken he?!
Over flexibel zijn gesproken; boeken en binnen een paar weken vertrekken. Last minutes zijn ideaal om als student van te profiteren en voor een lage prijs te genieten van een top vakantie! Dus wil je echt goedkoop op vakantie naar een mooie bestemming? Zorg dan dat je flexibel bent en op veel data kunt vertrekken. Zo vergroot je de kans op het scoren van een top aanbieding! Maar wanneer is een vakantie nou echt een last minute aanbieding? Dit is niet precies te zeggen, maar de meeste aanbieders houden vast aan vertrek binnen zes tot acht weken. Houd dit dus goed in je achterhoofd voordat je begint met het zoeken naar jouw ideale vakantie.
Als student heb je het meestal niet breed. Als je dan ook nog eens graag veel van de wereld wilt zien, kan het zoeken naar vliegtickets en vakanties best een opgave zijn. Maar niet als je weet waar je moet kijken! In dit artikel lees je waar je op moet letten.
Als je veel van de wereld wilt zien en je budget tot het maximum wilt stretchen, is https://www.vliegennaar.nl/ een ontzettend handige site. Als je niet gebonden bent aan vaste reisdata (lees: de hele zomervakantie of een bepaald semester) kun je via deze site makkelijk zoeken naar de allergoedkoopste tickets van dit moment voor meer dan 1100 bestemmingen!
Altijd voordelig vliegen met de Flight Alert
Als je je inschrijft voor de https://www.vliegennaar.nl/flight-alert, ontvang je een mail wanneer er een ticket beschikbaar is binnen jouw budget. Je kunt je uiteraard inschrijven voor meerdere bestemmingen en je kunt je budget zelf instellen. Gewone vanuit je luie stoel, zo makkelijk was tickets zoeken nog nooit.
De beste aanbiedingen van het moment
Niet op zoek naar een specifieke bestemming maar wil je er gewoon even tussenuit? Dan zijn de https://www.vliegennaar.nl/error-fare misschien wel iets voor jou. De redactie van VliegenNaar selecteert de beste deals, uiteenlopend van dichtbij tot ver weg, stedentrips tot rondreizen. Voor ieder wat wils, van tickets onder de €20,- tot uitzonderlijk lage tarieven voor die rondreis door Zuidoost-Azië die je al tijden wilt maken.
Tips en tricks
Veel mensen zijn zich wel bewust van het feit dat een andere luchthaven soms voordeliger kan zijn, dat de prijzen heel veel kunnen verschillen per aanbieder en als je een dag later terug zou komen dat dit heel veel kan schelen . Maar bij het zoeken naar tickets wordt dit toch vaak vergeten. VliegenNaar toont per bestemming prijzen vanaf verschillende luchthavens, aanbieders & reisdata. Ook vermelden zij de bijkomende kosten, zodat je niet voor verrassingen komt te staan.
Ook kan VliegenNaar je attenderen op dingen die je niet zou verwachten; soms is een pakketreis veel goedkoper dan een losse vlucht, waar je zelf nog accommodatie bij moet zoeken.
On January 15th SIB-Amsterdam went to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC or Convention), which entered into force on 29 April 1997. Currently the OPCW has a total of 193 member states and one member state (the United States of America) that is currently in the process of destroying their owned amount of chemical weapons. Under the nation states that did not sign the convention are North-Korea, Israel, Egypt and South-Sudan.
SIB-Amsterdam’s excursion to the OPCW started around 9.00 for most participants, who took a shared train from Amsterdam to The Hague, while others traveled separately and joined the group later. The visit started off at 11.00 with a quick tour through some of the halls and rooms of the building, during which the Nobel Peace Price (2013) was admired. Many participants took the opportunity to take a picture. After the tour the group was brought to a separate room and after a short informative video, a representative for the Political Affairs of the OPCW gave us some insight into the structure and way of operating of the organisation. After this introduction there was an opportunity to ask questions. The topics of the questions varied from topics as excluded nation states and the likelihood of them signing the CWC, to the judicial capabilities and the possibility for repercussions in the case of chemical weapons being used in any of the member states. Among the topics discussed were also different attacks in which chemical weapons have been used, such as in the Syrian Arab Republic and The United Kingdom. During this, the element of fear and the difference between chemical weapons and military weapons was also pointed out. The group gained some understanding about the difficulties of having a comprehensive insight into and control over the amount of chemical weapons that are stored, as nation states themselves are responsible for reporting the amount of chemical weapons owned and due to the fact that member states do not necessarily have insight into the amount of chemical weapons that non-state actors (such as terrorist groups) hold. Interesting to hear was also that the OPCW does not have the competence to do an independent investigation about the amount of chemical weapons being stored in a specific nation state until chemical weapons have in fact been used, after which a ‘’fact checking mission’’ will be initiated. The conversation was an interesting opportunity to learn more about the actual way of operating of an international institution as the OPCW and it’s admirable effect on the minimal use of chemical weapons worldwide.
After the visit the group enjoined some drinks in a café downtown, during which the consequences of the learned information was discussed. SIB-Amsterdam is grateful to the OPCW for its time and hospitality in receiving us and the organisation’s contribution in minimizing the use of chemical weapons worldwide.
The 7th of January marked the first SIB lecture of the year 2019. The Committee of Intellectual Activities chose to focus on something that many of us forgot during the past years and did not fully understand the implications of. The topic was Yemen and its forgotten war. For instance, did you know that the war in Yemen is the most severe humanitarian disaster at the moment? Even more than the Syrian conflict on which we receive daily news reports on the fighting and refugees fleeing the region.
The speaker of the evening was Dr. Marina de Regt. She is an Associate Professor at the Free University of Amsterdam and specializes in South-South relations. That is, she focuses on the relations between non-Western countries with each other. Her PhD dissertation was about her involvement in long-term projects in Yemen. Therefore, she knew quite a lot about the past, present, and answered questions about the future.
Dr. De Regt started with a brief introduction of the country. Her own experiences formed the basis of a presentation of how beautiful Yemen actually is (or was before the war). Pictures of long-stretching scenes and mountainous terrain amazed the audience. Following this introduction, a brief history of Yemen and the different republics (North and South) together with the socio-political and socio-economic aspects were discussed. South Yemen was a republic aligned with the Soviet Union and therefore held progressive views on life, but poorer than North Yemen. The North, in turn, was culturally more conservative and discoveries of oil made them richer than the South.
This laid some foundations for the current conflict with different actors fighting for different rights. While there are some foreign interventions, the conflict at its core remains Yemeni. The former President, who was an adversary of the Houthis, somehow found a way to align with the Houthis in the hope to regain control over the country. This alliance did not survive for long as that President (Saleh) tried to engage into talks with the enemies of the Houthis. After discovering this engagement, the Houthis murdered President Saleh. Hopefully, the current cease-fire will hold and the western port town of Al Hudaydah will experience some relief.
Lastly, it was inspiring to see some Yemeni refugees in the audience. People who were actively engaged through NGOs or who had a revival of their hope after seeing over 110 people listening to Dr. De Regt. They remain the victims of the conflict and giving them a little bit of hope is something that the Committee was honored to do.
-Emre Demirkiran, member of the Committee of Intellectual Activities
Last weekend Mundunsa went to Hamburg Model United Nations where they spent four days representing a country in a mock session of the United Nations. This is their experience!
In the early morning at the Flixbus Station at a rainy and dreary Station Sloterdijk the delegation of Mundunsa was gathered for the bus to Hamburg. After a long bus ride to Hamburg – an opportunity for several delegates to sharpen their knowledge of the topic they would be discussing and the country they would be representing – they arrived for the opening conference, which hosted a speaker from NATO that was flown in by the organization. After the obligatory speeches and pounding of the hammer, the Mundunsa delegates were off to their different committees.
Kevin represented Botswana in the Economic and Social Committee. The main topic of the conference would be trade for which Kevin came prepared. Referring to Smith and Ricardo he addressed the committee often. Botswana might be a small country but within a MUN each vote counts for the same and Kevin made his vote count! Denis was representing Ethiopia in the United Nation Office on Drugs and Criminality (UNODC). His perspective was unique bringing the experience of his country with Khat-abuse to the table and he was instrumental at drafting the resolutions.
Hannah was in the United Nations Environmental Program. For most of the conference they discussed water scarcity, a very relevant topic for the country she was representing: Australia. While the committee might have agreed that it’s a problem, she often found herself disagreeing about the possible solutions. Konstantin and Liora were both in the European Council representing Lithuania and the Czech Republic respectively the main topic being migration. Both weren’t happy about the idea of reforming the Dublin Regulations and having to host more migrants. For a short period, Konstantin changed countries when Greece didn’t show up. When Greece (a day and a half too late) did eventually show up he graciously changed back. Both did extremely well in maintaining the Dublin Regulations as much as possible.
Two of our delegates were in a bit of a different committee: a crisis committee. This is a committee with less rules, focused on responding to a (historical) crisis with more personal freedom. Delegates represent a person and not a country. The goal is not to draft a resolution that reflects your views the most but to advance your personal goals the most, if necessary by bold-faced backstabbing. Bas was in the Austrian Cabinet during the Second Schleswig War playing a Hungarian noble. Thanks to his efforts Hungary erupted in revolution against Habsburg rule which led to him being expelled to Prussia. Jared was the main general of the Roman Empire: Aetius, defending against Barbarian invasions and the impending fall of Rome.
In between committee sessions there was plenty of room for social activities. On 3 out of 4 nights Bas managed to eat hamburgers in Hamburg. Every evening there were social activities ranging from a pub crawl through the historical city center of Hamburg, to a silent disco in a nightclub on the Reeperbahn [If you feel the Amsterdam Red Light District is dirty and shady, try visiting the Reeperbahn – Patrick], to a very fancy black-tie ball, ironically held in the left-wing anarchist squat neighborhood of St. Pauli. The social elements of the trip contributed to several delegates having to do dances or read out verses from Fifty Shades of Grey as punishment for coming in late.
Liora – one of our more experienced delegates, having earned her stripes at MUNs organized by Oxford and Harvard students – won a best delegate award in the European Council, leading the block of Eastern European countries into negotiations with the rest of Europe and managing to get a favorable resolution passed. No small feat in a committee where all decisions can only be passed unanimously. Denis got an honorable mention for his performance as Ethiopia in UNODC, being instrumental in drafting the resolution. In a committee with over 40 delegates and having never done a MUN before this is incredibly good.
Jared in his crisis committee also got a best delegate award using his language and problem-solving skills to help protect the Roman Empire from a barbarian invasion – at least temporarily. At one point he even had a rap battle with a Barbarian King. With two best delegate awards and an honorable mention our delegation has performed well in the awards, but it must be emphasized that all our delegates did extremely well, Bas and Jared doing crisis for the first time, and with the exception of Liora and Konstantin (who did it at high school before) all other delegates doing MUN for the first time. We are looking forward to our next MUN in Madrid. After this registration opens again and many in the current delegation are looking to Tel Aviv as a possible MUN destination this summer.
We couldn’t be prouder of our delegates and their hard work. On the bus ride back to Amsterdam few delegates were be able to keep their eyes open.
On the 19th of November, SIB Amsterdam visited the International Court of Justice in The Hague. We received a warm welcome by the First Secretary of the Court and Head of the Information Department Mr Andrey Poskakukhinin in the ICJ building, the magnificent Peace Palace. He guided us into the ICJ court room which is also known as the Great Hall of Justice. It was a privilege to seat in the courtroom where entry is restricted to the parties of the case and the others have to seat in the balcony. Mr Poskakukhinin then gave us information of the court, its proceedings and selection of the judges. He also pointed out some important cases handled by ICJ. We discussed about how the United Nation’s Security Council has influence in selection process of judges to ICJ. It is important to note here that the ICJ has precedence over court of a state as long as the state constitution allows it. We thanked Mr. Poskakukhinin for this opportunity. On the way back home, we took an ad-hoc tour of the Dutch parliament. Here we discussed the Dutch political parties and their representation in the parliament. The balance between the King and elected representatives was also a point of discussion. It was a wonderful day!
Abhijit Bhanudas Mahale,
member of the CEA
From the 13th to the 18th of November, SIB-Amsterdam got to explore the wonderful cities of Rabat and Fes, respectively the political and cultural epicenters of Morocco. Every year, SIB travels to a destination not too far from its origin during the late Autumn. This year we chose to focus on Morocco due to its unusual political position within Africa, often acting as a communicator between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. We learned more about the international relations, domestic hardships and the involvement of the Netherlands with the country.
We started our trip traveling from Amsterdam to Brussels South Airport, where we took a flight to Rabat, the current capital of Morocco. After arriving, we treated ourselves to a group dinner complete with tajines, incredible salads and traditional mint tea – poured from over a meter high! The next morning, we walked over to the Dutch embassy, where we spoke to a senior diplomat, who informed us of the numerous projects the Netherlands is doing in the country as well as the issues faced by Moroccans living in the Netherlands. In the afternoon, we hung out with Sahar, the former president of SIB-Amsterdam who is currently studying in Rabat, as she showed us around the medina and Kasbah of the Udayas. Afterwards we visited the NGO, Heinrich Böll, where we got a different view of current cultural trends, specifically in ecology and public services.
After a night in the city, we took late morning taxis to Fes, the previous and historic capital of Morocco. We were met by our Riad host, Mohamed, who took us past the Blue Gate through the souks and winding alleys to our humble abode. After settling in the Riad with a warm welcome of tea and hospitality, we were given a generous tour by another local, who showed us all the main historical sites, best places to eat and the wonderful handicrafts ranging from tanned leather to textiles and tapestry. After a night of sleep in our lovely medina dwellings, we received a luxurious breakfast, and after which, a small group of us traveled with our host to a Hammam, a traditional Moroccan bathhouse. Refreshed and revitalized, we indulged ourselves in a steaming plate of couscous to energize us for an afternoon of exploration. Some of us wandered through the souks while others took a journey out to a viewing point, which had a wonderful view of the distinctive shapes and colors of Fes. In the evening, we all met up for our final group dinner in a ornamental restaurant with lively tiles and boisterous ceilings – where we ate our last tajines before having a nights rest and heading back to Rabat the morning after. Following a train ride, a flight back to Brussels South, a night in Charleroi and a subsequent bus ride back to Amsterdam, we completed our trip with sleepy eyes and fulfilled hearts.
On Saturday the 13th of October, we celebrated the 38th anniversary of SIB-Amsterdam. Thanks to the CSA, it has been a successfull evening. They have managed to serve three delicious, culinary dishes. After dinner, we went for a drink at Café Ons. Thanks for joining us!