Reading between the lines
Iraq's prime minister and two top American officials flew to the blistering western desert Saturday in a rare joint outing to highlight gains there in the fight against insurgents, hours before the military reported the deaths of eight U.S. troops.
One of those killed, a Marine, died in combat in Anbar province, once the site of some of the fiercest fighting in the country — and where the U.S. ambassador, the American commander in Iraq, and the Iraqi leader traveled Saturday.
The Sunni-dominated province has grown calmer in recent months with the flowering of a new alliance among Sunni tribal leaders, the Iraqi government and U.S. led forces, but peace continues to be elusive — as the death Saturday of the Marine demonstrated.
. . .
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and (Gen. David) Petraeus had planned to travel Saturday to al-Qaim, an Anbar town on the Syrian border, to meet with tribal leaders and survey a $20 million border terminal under construction.
But low visibility prevented their aircraft from completing the trip, and they could only reach the al-Asad air base in Anbar.