Commentary has an article on Saving Iraqi Kurdistanwhich is quite informative.
[..]Praise for America is ubiquitous. The Kurdish foreign minister told my group matter-of-factly, “It was your men and women, in uniform who shed blood, who overthrew Saddam.” I heard a group of smart Kurdish students cite chapter and verse on American exceptionalism.
The Kurdish nation is bound to America like few others. Kurdish hopes for autonomy — after a history of being the victims of ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter — first became a precarious reality when George H.W. Bush instituted the northern no-fly zone over Iraq in 1991, three years after Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign wiped out up to 100,000 Kurds with chemical weapons. With American protection in place, the Kurds began building infrastructure and honing their political vision. When George W. Bush toppled Saddam’s regime in 2003, the Kurds, who make up about 20 percent of the Iraqi population, began building what they promote as “the other Iraq” in earnest.[..]
Kurdistan is bursting with everything the liberation of Iraq was intended to set free: pluralism, democracy, opportunity, and goodwill toward the U.S. [.]]
As it stands, at the end of 2011, the U.S. will leave a slew of heavy weaponry to central Iraq, including tanks and F-16s. The Kurds will be left with their lightly armed Peshmerga. An American base of 5,000-10,000 soldiers in Kurdistan would ensure that those American weapons aren’t turned on America’s most loyal friends. This would entail the most minimal risk of American casualties and help see Iraq safely through its next phase of federal democracy.
The Kurds desperately want the base, but at the moment the chances seem slim. [..]
To the contrary, reform is well underway. The Kurdish government has just instituted an astounding $100 million annual scholarship program, which will send around 2,500 Kurdish students to Western universities every year. Kurdish universities are on a comprehensive fast-track to Western accreditation and have enacted short-term quotas for women to correct for the gross region-wide imbalance in the student population. Government ministries are cracking down on the long-standing problem of tribal cronyism.