Blaming Israeli Mercenaries, Surviving on Biscuits, Zelaya Looks for an Endgame

As if the U.N. diplomats don't have enough of a circus to deal with already, they're now addressing a mess in Honduras that is getting messier with each passing day. Manuel Zelaya, the deposed bolero-toting Honduran president, is now holed up inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with about 50 followers. Since re-entering the country on Monday, he's set up an improvised war room and living quarters in the embassy, issuing calls for the "fall of the usurpers" and spinning increasingly conspiratorial tales to the media. The once-proper president has resorted to sleeping on chairs and surviving on biscuits delivered to his makeshift bunker. His throat is sore from toxic gases, he says, while "Israeli mercenaries'' are supposedly torturing him with high-frequency radiation from a device resembling a large satellite dish. Even Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told CNN en Español he thinks Zelaya has lost it, ordering him to tone down his rhetoricwhile he remains an embassy guest.

With or without the crazed Israel potshots, it's highly unlikely that Zelaya would get himself reinstated at this point. It's been almost three months since Zelaya was deposed, and the Michiletti government doesn't seem willing to budge, even after Zelaya got Hillary Clinton to agree to withdraw U.S. aid to Honduras.

That begs the question: what, exactly, is the end game here? As noted by Newsweek's own Dan Stone, who closely watched Zelaya's maneuvers in Washington this summer, Zelaya's completely right that there's only one president--but he's got to come around to the fact that it won't be him. Perhaps he could negotiate a compromise, where he'd take some high government post. That way he could wear suits and be visible again, even if he has no real power. It's not ideal, but short of a shootout at the embassy or an extended excommunication, this seems to be the best option for him--and, since he's calling for talks, Zelaya probably knows that. But as InterAmerican Dialogue analyst Manuel Orozco observed, all the grandstanding and bluff-calling could easily become a protracted crisis as each side digs in--and could take more than a year to resolve.

In the meantime, as he presses his cause, Zelaya is willing to bat around increasingly far-fetched potshots to keep media attention focused on his embassy bunker. On that, it's worth making one extra point before closing. We all know how easily ridiculous allegations can reverberate through hate-filled e-mail chains, producing consequences far more serious than the immediate charge may seem, especially when those allegations dredge up the inflamed passions of the Israel-Palestine conflict. There are plenty of very good reasons to debate and criticize Israeli policies (most recently, see Gaza, U.N. Human Rights Report on). But, barring the extremely slim chance that Zelay's accusations are actually grounded in reality, suffice to say that dragging the specter of sinister Israeli mercenaries into the messy mix of Honduran domestic politics is just plain desperate--and inexcusably dangerous.