Alqosh, Iraq -- The long line of vehicles crowded the entrance to Alqosh, a Christian town in northern Iraq, on a Thursday last month.
People have come to shop and visit friends. At the mayor's office, officials walk in and out of Mayor Lara Zara's office getting stamps for various documents.
The mayor says that while the area today is secure from threats, such as the Islamic State, the lack of economic opportunity and investment presents a major challenge.
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"We have a lot of civil servants who are dependent on government salaries," the Chaldean Christian mayor said.
Even collecting those salaries is a hurdle because the town lies in disputed areas between the region effectively run by Iraq's Kurdish population and territory directly controlled by the central government in Baghdad.
Alqosh, an enclave with a large and ancient Christian population, reflects all the complexities of the country in microcosm.
Two years ago, Iraqi security forces fought brief skirmishes with the autonomous Kurdish Regional