To the people of Mosul, post-war Iraq is a place of hope and possibilities, reports Dan Rather.
American soldiers like Major Frank Sturek have been working closely with the local population, driving through the city without the fear of attack Americans face elsewhere in Iraq.
"In Mosul you'll see that most people smile," Sturek said. "It just doesn't bother me about security. You can see the little kids waving. I mean we really don't have a big problem up here. They know us."
With the release of American funds, Iraqis here are rebuilding government buildings, schools are being renovated and projects such as water lines where people had been without water for 12 years, are making a real difference in peoples lives.
A key component of American success in the area is an all-Iraqi police force. Unemployed former Iraqi soldiers have proved to be eager police cadets training to take over all police functions in the city.
In Sulamenia, to the north, they have an even more ambitious project. American GIs are working together with the local government to build a civilian airport.
While the rest of Iraq is under curfew, the streets at night are bustling and GIs on leave are made to feel right at home -- almost.
"It was the Americans that have supported us and we are very grateful for that," said Barham Alih.
He says the American presence is working. "We are grateful and we are proud to be partners with the United States in the endeavor of building a peaceful Iraq."
American forces hope that they can provide other Iraqis with a model of what a democratic Iraq could be like. The question is whether the autonomous north can someday be part of a unified Iraq.