Clifford D. May has a very kind article about Kurds in Iraq.
First, one thing about the large corruption problem in Iraq-i Kurdistan. The kurds have a long and unfortunate history of feudalism. What the leaders have done after the invasion is dividing the region up, feudal-style.
Yes, without Saddam, the region is growing like crazy. But the ordinary people are fed up about corruption, which may lead to anti-Americanism (since the leadership is associated with having American support).
One reason the Kurds can be a counterweight to radical Islam is that they are relatively secular, I would say one of the (if not the) least Islamic of all major Islamic population groups. Kurds lived in the periphery, and were not penetrated as deeply by the Arab invasions and Islam. Furthermore, their nationalistic movement acted as a intellectual counter-weight to political Islam. The Kurdish national anthem thus includes the lines:
“Both our faith and religion are our homeland
Both our faith and religion are Kurd and Kurdistan”
The question is how Kurds in turkey can win independence. Violence is not the answer. First of all it is wrong, and second the Turks are very nationalistic, and will not let the threat of violence from a 15% minority deter them.
Of course, the Turks are also misguided in their nationalism. The Kurdish parts of Turkey are extremely poor, and contain no natural resources or really any strategic importance. They don’t want to be part of turkey, so what exactly is the rational explanation of forcing them into the country?
At any case, I have a simple and powerful alternative method for achieving independence: Demographic Bomb. In modern times there are few, if any permissible countermeasures.
Kurds in turkey have much higher birth rates than Turks (who are below replacement). The same is true elsewhere. Just keep your Kurdish identity and these birth rates for another 2-3 generations, and Kurds will be so many that the political and military equation changes.
Noble prize winner Douglas North predicted that because Kurdish nationalism would not die, Kurds would ultimately gain a nation just based on the opportunity arising at some point.