The Kurdish-controlled region is one of the few safe areas in the Middle East, but it is very safe. Officially it's part of Iraq but for all practical purposes it is its own country; the Kurds do not consider themselves Iraqis. Security is provided by the Peshmerga (Kurdish militia) who are the only people ISIS is scared of. Erbil is the capital city of the Kurdish region.
I've never been to Iraq before (I was as close as Kuwait once, but that's a tale for another time) so this will be my first visit. I know some people (via mutual friends) in Kurdistan so I'll have some contacts there. The Kurds are religiously tolerant and have historically had good relations with the Jews.
The back-story I'll save for another post, but I am excited about this trip and looking forward to it. I plan to be posting about the trip here at LJ.