One of the unintended beneficiaries of the current crisis in Iraq has been the Kurds of Northern Iraq. With the Shiite dominated government focused on Sunni fighters, the Kurds have already been able to retake historic and oil rich territory such as Kirkuk. And now Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani has said “The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.”

The creation of Kurdistan in present day Northern Iraq, a nation for the Kurdish people, was unthinkable even just a few years ago. Partly due to neighboring states such as Turkey who have a large Kurdish population and at one time believed the existence of Kurdistan would create instability in their country. But now Turkey has changed its tune and come close to outright supporting the creation of Kurdistan, likely due to the realization that the threat of Sunni extremist forces coming north is more of a threat to the country’s stability than the Kurds living in Turkey having a homeland. From Turkey’s perspective, Kurdistan could serve as a buffer state.

Regardless of the swirling circumstances that put the opportunity before the Kurds, they seem amenable to taking it while they can and forming a state of their own after generations of being denied.

Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani gave his strongest-ever indication on Monday that his region would seek formal independence from the rest of Iraq. “Iraq is obviously falling apart,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview. “And it’s obvious that the federal or central government has lost control over everything. Everything is collapsing – the army, the troops, the police.”

“We did not cause the collapse of Iraq. It is others who did. And we cannot remain hostages for the unknown,” he said through an interpreter. “The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.”

President Barzani’s contention that Iraq is collapsing is hard to dispute, but would Baghdad accept an independent Kurdistan, would the rest of the world?

The Kurds already have de facto autonomy right now with the central government of Iraq fighting for its life with Sunni fighters including ISIS sweeping the south. But gaining de jure recognition as an independent state is going to be quite a challenge, but one the Kurds seem ready to take on now that the door is open.