Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain have said they are withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar over its alleged breach of a regional security deal not to interfere in each other's internal affairs.
The three countries announced the move in a joint statement Wednesday after Qatar failed to implement the security agreement among the Gulf Arab countries.
The statement said Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members had signed an agreement on November 23 not to support "anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals – via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media."
Abu Dhabi and Riyadh said that Qatar failed to uphold its end of the agreement, prompting the diplomatic action.
Qatar's cabinet voiced "regret and surprise" at the decision by its counterparts but said Doha would not pull out its own envoys in response and that it remained committed to "the security and stability" of the GCC.
"The decision is due to differences in stances over issues unrelated to interests of the Gulf people," the Qatari government said in a statement.
The move is unprecedented in the three-decade history of the GCC and is the clearest sign yet of the rift between Gulf Arab nations and Qatar, which has been a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere.
Doha also has good relations with Iran, which Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain view as a regional rival.
The GCC is a pro-Western alliance of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman.
hc/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)