As the US shifts paradigm from global counter-terrorism to global great power rivalry is it still essential for the US government to internalize that Iran is a great power no less than Russia and a rival of the US no less than China. The US great power rivalry with China is largely over economic and technological supremacy worldwide while the rivalry with Iran is geostrategic and ideological in nature, hence more akin to the great power rivalry with the Soviet Union in the second half of the 20th century.
Iran’s geostrategic ambitions in Islamdom is currently directed primarily against the Arab world which it effectively seeks to to take over and turn into a series of colonies run by its ideological ally, the Muslim Brotherhood. In the medium term however, is Iran interested in taking over the entire Islamdom and thus becoming the world’s sole superpower in dominating the entire world. Iran’s geopolitical project is thus parallel to that of the Khilafa, the Caliphate project of the Sunni Islamists (including of the Muslim Brotherhood) which seeks to turn the entire Islamdom into an one state, a new Caliphate run by a Nazi-influenced Islamist version of Sharia law based on purging society from ostensible “impure” elements.
The cold war with Islamism/Jihadism is changing dimension and character from a global “war on terrorism” (a euphemism for the US waging global war on armed Qutbism) into a conflict between global Islamism/Jihadism (both Shia and Sunni) and the Israeli-Muslim alliance in Islamdom as America tactically partially retreats from Islamdom. The fact that there is now increasingly a great power rivalry between Israel and Iran does not mean however, that the great power rivalry between the United States and Iran has somehow disappeared or dissipated, on the contrary so.
The funding for Islamism/Jihadism comes mostly from donors in oil-producing countries and with transition to electric vehicles in the coming 10 to 15 years worldwide will likely Islamist/Jihadist ambitions (including Iran’s ambitions) come to naught. The total end of production of fossil fuels worldwide within 20 years will likely turn out to also be the end of and conclusion to the cold war with Islamism/Jihadism.
However, until then is the Iranian threat of geopolitical expansion – with Saudi Arabia as the great prize – an urgent threat to a world largely dependent upon Middle Eastern oil. While the Saudi military has a vast arsenal at its disposal are there still lingering questions about its ability to use those weapons and defend its territory from the Iranian threat. The fact is that Saudi Arabia is very much militarily strategically dependent upon Israel, the regional military superpower with its particularly advanced high-tech military.
America is now energy independent, yet the Iranian threat to take over the GCC countries with their vast deposits of oil is a strategic challenge to US status as the sole superpower. Were Iran to control the GCC oil reserves would Iran effectively become a new superpower which could dictate policy to both Europe and Asia. This is a most severe threat to US national interests. Make no mistake, Iran strives to take over not only the oil-rich Twelver Shia area of eastern Saudi Arabia but also the holy Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina of Saudi Hejaz. Iran strategically sees itself as a potential superpower and furthermore acts as one and that is effectively how the Iranian problem and the Iranian threat need to be treated.
The war on Islamism/Jihadism is likely to go on for two more decades until the funding for Islamism/Jihadism dries up. It is ultimately all about the money.