By Collins Chong Yew Keat

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The deep complexity of the Israel-Palestine conundrum and with the current power rivalry and bloc divide  contribute to the impasse that has divided the world. Initial ground works to stabilize the region and prevent further escalation have been intensifying, but remain polarized by the ongoing power and West-East and North-South polarization.
Conflicting Dilemma for Ongoing West-Moscow-Beijing Rivalry
Beijing and Moscow have worked across different platforms in trying to provide solutions and pushing for de-escalation. Moscow has also condemned the West’s hypocrisy and blamed the US as the prime factor in the long running Middle East crisis that has long dominated Middle Eastern politics and moulded the geopolitics of the region in its own interest frame. 
The US, on the other hand, faces a greater fallout in its decades of soft power building for the global acceptance and adherence to the principles of freedom and democracy and a rules-based order, with this crisis further eroding its perception and image worldwide, especially in the Muslim world and the Global South. The US is trying to work with all sides in ensuring that both Israel’s rights to security and self-defense and the Palestinians’ rights to statehood and safety are met, and has been arguing that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people and its will, as well as the need to defend the rules-based order. 
This narrative faces a huge roadblock in getting the accepted understanding from the wider part of the non-Western world, further eroding its already vulnerable security projections from a three-pronged potential hard power threats in the Middle East, Ukraine and the continuous sabre-rattling flashpoints in the Indo Pacific involving China. 
This Middle East crisis has also been a key opening for additional attack points on the failure of the Western led rules-based order, as recently raised by Putin on how the West is using this global rules-based order to facilitate its own colonialist framework and intention and the capitalisation of this issue by both Moscow and Beijing in further cementing their appeal and diplomatic credentials in the Global South.
Moscow and Beijing have been taking a close strategic attention to both the crises in Ukraine and in the Middle East, both in expanding their presentation of  viable alternative to the Western led system and a more inclusive solution approach as a useful gauge in their future orientations or planning in their geo-strategic power moves against the West.
From Ukraine to the current Israel-Hamas crisis, analysts have argued on the risks of Beijing using this opening for a bolder strategic effort in flashpoints in South China Sea or Taiwan, the void and distraction of the US in the Middle East and in Ukraine.  Potentiality of a widened and protracted conflict involving Hezbollah and direct involvement of Iran is also giving a new opening for Moscow in exerting a new power shift in the region and with the Ukraine card.
Pro Palestine movements throughout the world especially in the Muslim world and even in the Western hemisphere have created a growing moral and diplomatic conundrum for the West in balancing the need for ensuring its leadership in the Muslim world and the Global South is not further eroded, and to safeguard the bulwark of freedom and the defense of like-minded allies.
Regional Responses and Roles
Hamas has representation and support in many Middle Eastern and Asian nations and Hamas leaders including Khaled Mishaal and Ismail Haniyeh, are based in Qatar.
Doha has also served as the intermediary between Israel and Hamas, providing the necessary openings and intermediary support for both sides. Qatar has negotiated the release of the two American hostages, and is working on getting more hostages released.
While Doha has been a vital ally of the US in the region, it has been caught in a quandary in balancing its needs and interests with its regional neighbours and the security assurances from the West.  Qatar hosts the largest military installation of the United States in the Middle East, the Al-Udeid Air Base in serving as a hub for overseas American operations, especially in serving missions in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Qatar has been trying to increase its diplomatic clout as Saudi influence grows, and has been steadily mending ties with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
From enhancing its soft diplomacy through the World Cup to avoiding key regional confrontations with the hope of consistently striving for regional predominance, the Gulf state is prioritising a good working relationship with neighbours particularly Riyadh.
Its role in backing pro-democracy movements and rebels in Syria, Egypt and Libya after the 2011 Arab Spring had infuriated regional neighbours, and is now keen to emerge as a voice of trust and reason.
Washington now faces an acute dilemma in dealing with Doha once this conflict eases, in balancing with its strategic needs and long-term interests in Israel as the region’s defender of US interests.
Turkey remains another host country for Hamas, and has been trying to play a key role in the conflict including working to get humanitarian aid to Gaza and allowing treatments in Turkish hospitals. Ankara has been trying to normalise ties with Tel Aviv since the 2010 flotilla incident, but the current bombardment in Gaza has forced Erdogan to take a different stance. 
Riyadh also remains a key player in having the leverage and future strategic card in its dealing and potential resumption of normalization process with Israel, and thus, possesses greater chips in dealing and exerting greater strategic advantage in facing both Israel and the US in this crisis. 
For the US, Riyadh remains a key player both in checking Tehran and in economic and defence ties and as the stabilizing player in the region besides Israel. Riyadh faces another dilemma in balancing its long term interests of power dominance in the region with Israel in the equation, and in how it navigates its future strategic calculations with regional rival Tehran and ties with Beijing and Washington that will ensure its future returns in securing its ambitions, not further complicated with the crisis in its dealings with both Tel Aviv and Washington. 
Asean’s Second Trap
The Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit is a symbol of Asean trying to regain its relevance and influence, especially in providing credible support and capacity for the most pressing dilemmas and conflicts, where it has seen its credibility and relevance taking a big hit in the disjointed regional response to the Ukraine crisis.
Asean has always been split in responding to major global events that have stoked different responses from members in accordance to different interest fault lines. Just like the Ukraine war and the importance of Russia and the push for the anti-West and rules based order, and the need for preservation of ties with Beijing, different members have responded with widening gap and differences that suit their own larger national interests.
Asean is compelled to thread a careful line on this, lest inviting risks to its future dealings with both the West and China, and remains to preserve the interests of its members and to safeguard its internal policy.
While some see Asean as the East led alternative or China dominated entity to the Western dominated EU in providing the alternative responses and as a check and balance to the Western system, the immediate impact as a potent geopolitical force in global power parity or in providing credible deterrence or solutions to global hard power crises remain stunted, and trapped by its internal divide and policy trap and a premature phase of global credence, with ever persistent Beijing shadow. 
This Middle Eastern flare up has raised overall global risks of a widened conflict and a new juncture of proxy battles that will create more sustained and integrated capitalization of power enhancement and power interests in other spillover impact. 
*Collins Chong Yew Keat is a Foreign Affairs and Security Strategist with Universiti Malaya.*