Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, gave a high profile interview with CNN today talking up the prospect of Kurdish independence, saying “it is the time now for the Kurdistan people to determine their future,” and urging Kurds to “seize the opportunity” they have now.
The KRG had been bickering with the central government for years over a number of issues, including boundaries and oil rights. Since the recent ISIS surge into Iraq, the KRG has seized a number of Iraqi cities as well, and seems to be preparing for outright secession.
Nowhere is this more apparent than Kirkuk, one of the seized Iraqi cities, which may well wind up being the new capital of an independent Kurdistan. Kurdish Peshmerga have taken the city, and looted Iraqi military bases, giving them access to better weaponry both to defend from ISIS and, potentially, from Baghdad itself.
An independent Kurdistan would be a huge oil exporter, and the KRG already has deals in place with Turkey on an oil pipeline to the Mediterranean. Major US companies Exxon-Mobil and Chevron are the two largest producers in Kurdish territory.