Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Doha on Wednesday in protest at Qatar’s interference in their internal affairs, they announced in a joint statement.
The statement said the move came “to protect their security and stability,” accusing Qatar of not implementing a security pact on non-interference in the internal affairs of GCC states.
The three Gulf Arab states made the decision following what newspapers described as a “stormy” late Tuesday meeting of foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh.
GCC countries “have exerted massive efforts to contact Qatar on all levels to agree on a unified policy… to ensure non-interference, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any member state,” the statement said.
Qatar said it regretted the decision of three fellow Gulf monarchies to recall their envoys, 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.
The nations have also asked Qatar, a backer of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that is banned in most Gulf states, “not to support any party aiming to threaten security and stability of any GCC member,” it added, citing media campaigns against them in particular.
The statement stressed that despite the commitment of Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to these principles during a mini-summit held in Riyadh in November with Kuwait’s emir and the Saudi monarch, his country has failed to comply.
The move is thought to be unprecedented in the three-decade history of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a pro-Western alliance of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Oman.