Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil.

Qatar’s cabinet voiced “regret and surprise” at the decision by the fellow-members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, but said Doha would not pull out its own envoys and that it remained committed to GCC security and stability.

The Saudi-led trio said they had acted because Qatar failed to honor a GCC agreement signed 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”.