On The Frontlines With Egyptian Protester

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer talks with Ahmed Abbas, one of the leading protesters in Cairo. From the CBS Evening News, Feb. 9, 2011.

CAIRO - The longer the anti-government protests in Egypt go on, the more the Mubarak regime digs in and the United States is turning up the pressure again.

Day 16 saw the protests expand to government buildings, including parliament. Thousands of state workers went on strike even after the vice president hinted a new crackdown is coming.

The Obama administration said President Mubarak hasn't met even the "minimum threshold" of reforms demanded by the protesters. Mubarak's foreign minister accused the U.S. of trying to impose its will on Egypt.

Palmer Blog: Joyful Participants in Cairo
The Two Sides of Egypt's Struggle
Complete Coverage: Anger in the Arab World

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports one of the leaders of the uprising says the time for talking with the government has passed.

Internet activist Wael Ghonim is the unlikely hero of Egypt's revolt. Wednesday in a CNN interview he said it's too late for genuine negotiations with Mubarak.

"They decided to negotiate with us with rubber bullets, with police stick, with, you know, water hoses, with tear gas tanks," said Ghonim on CNN.

But he didn't say that he was ready to lead this movement, disappointing legions of young activists who at the moment are making it up as they go along online.

People like Ahmed Abbas el Reedy, a stockbroker turned internet rebel, who discovered on Twitter Wednesday that protestors were moving beyond Tahrir Square.

"Now we will add the place in front of the parliament as another safe area for protests. So it's here on Twitter now," says Abbas.

His proudest moment so far: victory after pitched battles with Egypt's riot police, all chronicled on Facebook, and he's got a trophy riot police shield to prove it.

Abbas thinks at this stage, this movement does need a leader and some structure.

"We are so strong but not organized," said Abbas. "Like a big beast that is striking everywhere except the bullseye."

When CBS News arrived at parliament the demonstrators were in control.

The gate of Egypt's parliament is covered with protest signs. Inside, it's being guarded by a very few soldiers. Outside, it's being guarded by hundreds of protestors. This building is now blockaded.

The protesters had turned their lightning blockade into a tent city siege.

Elizabeth Palmer: "So this feels like a good tactical move?"

Ahmed Abbas: "For the time being, yes. It's not what's going to make it for us but it's buying us time."

A few minutes later the army tried to move a fire truck in but the protesters blocked it. Leader or no leader, the call went out online for reinforcements who, almost immediately, began to arrive.

Protesters in Tahrir Square and protesters in front of parliament are in a little side street. The army is simply looking on.

The parliament building is empty. The legislators had to move to other quarters. The protesters are targeting parliament because they think it was elected in rigged elections and they want it dissolved.