RIYADH 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.
The statement said GCC members had signed an agreement on November 23 not to back "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".
GCC foreign ministers had met in Riyadh on Tuesday to try to persuade Qatar to implement the agreement, it said.
"But unfortunately, these efforts did not result in Qatar's agreement to abide by these measures, which prompted the three countries to start what they saw as necessary, to protect their security and stability, by withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar starting from today, March 5 2013," the statement said.
(Reporting by Angus McDowall, Reem Shamseddine and Rania el Gamal; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich)