Many Kurds feel that an American invasion of Iraq gives them an opportunity to establish a Kurdish state. But the Turks have made it clear that they will occupy northern Iraq if that appears to be happening. Kurdish nationalists in Turkey are less eager for independence now that a new government is easing up on laws forbidding use of the Kurdish language or expressions of Kurdish culture.
Kurds appear to be pushing more for guarantees that, in a post-Saddam Iraq, they will have a share of the oil money and freedom from Arab oppression. One Kurdish leader called for the stationing of a Kurdish division in Baghdad to insure that Arabs think twice before hurting the Kurds.
At the moment, Kurds in northern Iraq have some 50,000 men and teenagers armed with rifles, machine-guns and other light weapons. They have some artillery and tanks, but little other military equipment. The Kurds in northern Iraq, organized into two competing factions, can organize perhaps eight light infantry brigades. These units would be weak in communications and transportations and the troops would not be well trained or led. The US could supply trainers and equipment to upgrade these units, a process that would take over a month. The Kurds have enough military force to slow down advancing Iraqi troops, but not stop them. Unless, of course, the Kurds had American air power helping them out.