CHALABI FINALE?….This is weird. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Sha’alan says he plans to arrest Ahmed Chalabi. Why? Because he claims that Chalabi posted forged documents on his website that defamed him. “I will take legal action against Chalabi and have him arrested after the (Eid al-Adha) feast,” Sha’alan told the London-based Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat.

That’s pretty thin for an arrest warrant, isn’t it? On the other hand, announcing it now should also give Chalabi plenty of time to get out of Dodge ? something that Chalabi has plenty of reason to do since Sha’alan says he plans to turn him over to Interpol to face bank fraud charges in Jordan.

Of course, “face charges” isn’t quite the right wording, since Chalabi was long ago convicted in absentia of these charges. If Jordan gets its hands on Chalabi, they’ll presumably just toss him in jail straightaway, the formalities of a trial having already been dispensed with.

Questions abound. Why announce his arrest to the world before actually nabbing him? Does the defense minister really have the authority to turn him over to Interpol anyway? And what do the American authorities think about all this?

And most important, is this the end of the road for Chalabi? Or merely another speed bump in his long and checkered career? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Juan Cole has further speculations and explanations about the whole thing. As he says, the whole affair is rather peculiar on both sides.

UPDATE 2: Interior Minister Falah al-Naquib says there’s no arrest warrant for Chalabi, and since he’s the guy in charge of arrest warrants it seems like he’d be in a better position to know than the Defense Minister. This looks more and more like it’s just a spat between Chalabi and the Allawi government.