European Union to Consider Suspending Billions in Egyptian Aid after Days of Violence

Following escalating violence in Egypt over the last few days, the European Union has announced it will be "urgently" reviewing its ties with the country, according to a statement made Sunday by two top EU officials.

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy made a statement Sunday in which they put the responsibility of Friday's clashes squarely on the army and the interim government, and called for an end to the violence of the recent military crackdowns.

"In cooperation with its international and regional partners, the EU will remain firmly engaged in efforts to promote an end to violence, resumption of political dialogue and return to a democratic process," the officials said. "To this effect, together with its member states, the EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt and adopt measures aimed at pursuing these goals."

"The violence and the killings of these last days cannot be justified nor condoned," the officials added, saying also that calls for democracy "cannot be disregarded, much less washed away in blood."

Officials have indicated that the review will likely mean a suspension of the various forms of aid — totaling around $6.6 billion — which the EU had conditionally promised to Egypt back in November to ensure that certain democratic reforms were put in place.

“The current situation is not making it possible for Egyptian authorities to fulfil many of those conditions so they cannot get the money that was put at their potential disposal,” an EU official said.

EU ambassadors will convene on Monday for the review, and then EU foreign ministers will probably be meeting on Thursday.The announcement comes following days of violence in Egypt's capital. Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters barricaded themselves in a mosque in central Cairo Friday to escape the violence, and more than 350 — including several foreigners — were arrested by the military late Saturday. Reports are suggesting that the violence is now no longer restricted to pro-Morsi supporters and the military: "popular committees" of civilians have taken it upon themselves to set up "checkpoints" in various neighborhoods, often taking advantage of the situation to rob drivers. Looters ransacked an antiquities museum on Thursday, stealing hundreds of artifacts and destroying the building, as tourism officials have watched the industry come to a halt this week.