ERBIL, Iraq -- Secretary of State John Kerry paid a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan Tuesday.
He met with Kurdish Prime Minister Barzani, hoping to enlist his help in convincing Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to share power with Kurds and Sunnis in order to avoid a civil war.
The Maliki-led Iraqi government in Baghdad is weak, its army has imploded in many places and much of Iraq has disintegrated.
The Kurdish government in Northern Iraq, however, is strong and stable, prompting some to wonder if this is the time for the Kurds to emerge. They have a long history in the region and many feel they may be at the crossroads of independence and statehood.
CBN News spoke to several Kurdish citizens at an open-air market in Erbil, asking them about their hopes for an independent Kurdistan.
"Yes, surely this is our old dream, a very old dream for us, for the whole Kurdish people. Now is the right time for the Kurdish people to have their independent state," one Kurd said.
Another replied, "Yes, it's the right time because the Iraqi people didn't accept us as Muslims, as Shiite or Sunni or as brothers. So, because they didn't accept us as brothers, that time is over and this is why I think it is the right time to declare an independent state for the Kurds."
The British and French established the current borders of Iraq after World War I, but the current crisis could split Iraq into three regions: Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish.
Kurdish officials say declaring a state would be difficult, but they've earned the right.
CBN News spoke with Mariwan Naqshbandi, the minister of Religious Affairs for Iraqi Kurdistan.
"The independence of Kurdistan is dependent on the real situation," Naqshbandhi said. "I do believe that the path of getting independence is covered with mines. We cannot actually step into it, but the social life, the reality, tells the others outside that this nation is really worthy to get independence."
Former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says a Kurdish state would be good for the region.
"The Kurds really are the one group of people in Iraq that America should be grateful for and trying to help," Huckabee said. "They could create a stable government and a sensible sane government and I think we should do everything humanly possible to encourage at least one piece of that region to be stable."
It's a historic time for the region because if the Kurds do declare a state they'll begin to re-draw the borders of a new Middle East.