As protests have returned to Iraq for the third straight year, so have Moqtada al-Sadr’s attempts to co-opt them. Upon the new year, the cleric gave a press conference where he both supported and criticized the demonstrations going on in Anbar and Ninewa, while blaming the prime minister for the people’s unhappiness. This is exactly what he did during 2011when he went from banning his followers from participating in the marches to praising them, and taking swipes at the premier at the same time. In both circumstances, Sadr was attempting to maintain his populist image by appropriating the demands of the protest movement, while doing absolutely nothing substantive about them.