Iraq’s Premier Narrows Divide, but Challenges Loom

In nearly every way, Mr. Abadi has so far been a different leader than his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, despite their common Shiite political bloc. And though the obstacles facing his government are vast, and he faces political challenges within his own party, his early performance has encouraged a wide array of Iraqi and Western officials.

In his first months in office, Mr. Abadi has already appeared three times before Parliament, something Mr. Maliki did only twice in eight years.

Mr. Abadi has fired incompetent and corrupt military commanders appointed by Mr. Maliki and rooted out 50,000 so-called ghost soldiers, no-show troops for whom commanders nevertheless collect salaries.

In his signature success so far, Mr. Abadi reached a deal to share oil revenue with the Kurds in northern Iraq, an issue that Mr. Maliki had pushed nearly to the point of Kurdish secession.