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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

September 18 , 2007 Chemical Gas Accident in Syria

Today Jane's Defense Weekly released a story that there was an explosion in a joint Iranian/Syrian chemical weapons plant at the end of July.  According to the article, the explosion took place while engineers were trying to place a chemical warhead on a Scud missile.  Based on the report, the warhead exploded and that explosion caused additional explosions, causing the release of Mustard and Nerve gas.  The explosions killed over a dozen Syrians, as well as an unknown number of Iranians.  I cannot think of a more serious “axis of evil” than a joint Syrian-Iranian chemical warfare plant and a joint Syrian-North Korean nuclear plant. 

Israel seems to be lowering the level of alert regarding a possible Syrian counter-attack.  A number of changes among key army officers, including the commander of the Golan Front, had been put off due to the level of alert.  Those changes are expected to take place next week, thus indicating that Israel feels the greatest point of danger has passed. 

There were two economic reports on the state of the West Bank and Gaza, one by the World Bank and one by the British government.  Both paint a bleak picture.  The reports say that all of the money that should have gone to economic development went to ongoing expenses of the Palestinian territories.  One expert on the West Bank was interviewed and asked  whether he felt there is really a chance for economic development and the creation of an independent economy on the West Bank. His answer was "No".