My friend Brad Patty and I have a piece up at PJ Media calling for the US to support an independent Kurdish state. Brad was a tribal affairs advisor to US commanders in Iraq on the ground for about three years in the surge era. We both believe that a free Kurdistan could be a strong US ally and a positive step that doesn't require military action (at first). We do hope that it could become not just a friend, but a place for us to safely base assets and a partner in keeping the peace, if we can get some started.
It is reasonable to question whether such a state is politically possible. But amidst all the concern over the resurgence of violence in Iraq between Sunni extremists and the largely Shia government, the Kurds have created a new reality on the ground. Kurdish Peshmerga forces now occupy the oil center of Kirkuk after Iraqi military forces abandoned the city. That completes their control of the northern oil fields and the pipeline shipping oil to Turkey. Although irregulars, the Peshmerga are the most competent fighting forces in Iraq and they have a good chance of holding their gains.
Another factor pointing to the potential viability of this new state is the delivery of a million barrels of Kurdish oil to Israel by way of Turkey. The Kurds recently signed a 50-year agreement to sell oil to the Turks, but were involved in a bitter dispute with the Iraqi government, which claims sole authority to sell oil. Baghdad’s loss of sovereign control of the regions outside the Shi’a heartlands leaves it unable to stop the shipments, and the Kurds have proven they can deliver on their deal with Turkey.