Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar in protest at what it says is Doha’s interference in their internal affairs.
The unprecedented public spat has raised questions about the future of the Gulf Co-Operation Council and highlighted growing tensions between the Gulf Arab allies over Qatar’s support for Islamist groups across the Middle East, particularly in Syria.
Qatar voiced ‘regret and surprise’ at the decision saying it would not withdraw its own envoys.
From Dubai our correspondent Fransois Chignac said: “The dispute which has been rumbling for some time came to a head when a Qatari man was jailed for seven years here in Dubai for supporting a banned organisation – namely the Muslim Brotherhood. This latest action is by far the most serious threat to the alliance of pro-Western nations since it was set up in the 1980s.
In Doha, euronews’ Mara Barada said: “The official response here in Doha was one of ‘surprise’. A communique, said Qatar would not be withdrawing its own ambassadors in response adding that it remained committed to “the security and stability” of the Gulf Co-operation Council. All eyes are now on Kuwait – a fellow GCC member – whose emir is expected to attempt to heal the rift.’‘