Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their envoys from Qatar over political differences, escalating concerns that cooperation within the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council is failing.
The three oil exporters said in a joint statement they were removing their envoys "to protect security and stability," Bloomberg reports. The decision follows a meeting in Riyadh yesterday which failed to persuade Qatar to stop supporting political opponents of the GCC, such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar sent billions of dollars of aid to Egypt during Mohamed Morsi's presidency from 2012 to 2013, and has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas.
The tiny gulf nation is one of the richest nations in the world thanks to its oil reserves, and has been aiming for more regional influence for years.
Analysts said the tensions could have economic implications for the Gulf States, which supply about a fifth of the world's crude oil and have a combined gross domestic product of $1.6 trillion.