According to James S. Robbins from NRO,
Despite panicky headlines to the contrary, it is not in any group’s interest to wage full scale civil war in Iraq. The Shiites have power without it; the Sunnis could not win it; and the Kurds will sit it out either way and keep patiently building their homeland.
This paragraph contradicts its thesis statement. While everyone else might be worse off, the Kurds would probably win a civil war in Iraq. They are clearly capable of sealing the borders sufficiently well if need be. A civil war would provide an excellent pretext for discarding the rest of Iraq, and since the Kurds would have very limited territorial ambitions with respect to territory they don’t already control, they wouldn’t get dragged in to the fighting. Unlike the rest of Iraq, which is mostly lukewarm at best, the Kurds really like the USA and could easily become our second best friend (after Israel) in the region. The Kurds, unlike most of the rest of the planet, know who is going to be the hyperpower for most of this century and it’s not the EU or OIC. Put a few USA military bases in (which never hurt the local economy) and they’d be set. Frankly, it’s hard to see what the downside for the Kurds is. It is much to their credit that no one suspects them of bombing the Golden Mosque, which is where a pure cui bono viewpoint would lead. The Kurds are also too cagey and smart to pull something so risky.
More than that, however, the past history of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the utter stupidity of their strategy makes this lastest action a perfect match, despite the fact that it has no upside for the Caliphascists. If no sectarian / civil war breaks out, they look ineffectual. If one does, the Sunni will be cleansed, the USA will increase its influence (because the Iraqi Sunnis like the USA much less than the Iraqi Shi’a) and Al Qaeda will likey be flushed right of Iraq along with the Sunni (note how well Al Qaeda does in Kurdistan — that’s how hospitable a post-civil war Shi’a Iraq would be to Al Qaeda). How Al Qaeda could profit from this I simply can’t fathom. But then, they never have, so why change now?