Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain said on Wednesday they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar because Doha had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.
The move, conveyed in a joint statement by the three countries, is unprecedented in the three-decade history of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a pro-Western alliance of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Oman.
Qatar has been a maverick in the conservative region Of hereditary monarchies, backing Islamist groups in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East that are viewed with suspicion or outright hostility by some fellow GCC members.
Related: Qatar said on Wednesday it regretted the decision of three fellow Gulf monarchies to recall their envoys to Doha, but pledged not to withdraw its ambassadors from those countries.
Doha said the decision by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was linked to “differences over issues outside the Gulf Cooperation Council,” in an apparent reference to differing policies mainly regarding Egypt.
“Qatar is very keen on maintaining brotherly links between the people of Qatar and all other Gulf peoples,” it said.