In a world where deceiving the public through the media—spreading disinformation, using selective memory and strategic omission—is a vital tool in modern psychological warfare, the Somali Transitional Federal Government TFG achieves its political ends through blatantly manipulative propaganda. A case in point: the TFG secretly bought one of the leading online Somali news website, hiiraan.com, about two years ago.
According to a close friend of the previous Ottawa-based hiiraan.com's owner, the website administrator was offered an undisclosed amount of money that was too good to be true. This begs the question: have the readers of hiiraan.com been misled to believe that they have been reading an independent website, all this time?
Lately, readers may have wondered why more pro-TFG articles than ones that point out the TFG's complex web deceit aimed at luring Somali people to accept a foreign-imposed client regime are posted on hiiraan.com. Or why there are more articles that spew out a hateful language towards Somaliland than ones that oppose the invasion of the Ethiopian army. Worse still, isn't perplexing why many reports detailing the true motives behind the US-Ethiopia coalition attacks against Somalia—under the pretext of uprooting ghost terrorists in Somalia—are censored by hiiraan.com? Yet another mind-boggling question is: who owns hiiraan.com?
Surprisingly, hiiraan.com does not operate under the same administration anymore. As many people believe hiiraan.com is owned and operated by the TFG which stands for Tigray Founded Government, according to many Somalis. However, in all fairness to hiiraan's administrators, without jumping into conclusion we have conducted a simple research to find out who runs the website.
Using a fake Internet Research Group IRG, we have e-mailed a simple survey questionnaire to hiiraan's administrators and asked the following five questions. And for the privacy of the administrator who have responded to our request we would like to leave his name and e-mail out.
The survey conducted by the IRG and hiiraan.com administrator's response:
1. Q. Is hiiraan.com partially owned by the current government of Somalia? A. Yes
2. Q. Has the administration of the website changed in the past few years? A. Yes
3. Q. Are there any plans to sell the website in the near future? A. No
4. Q. Is hiiraan.com considered as one of the most reliable and leading online Somali news website, among Somalis? A. Yes
5. Q. What is the main language(s) used by hiiraan.com? A. Somali and English
To our great surprise, yet convincing, the IRG has learned that hiiraan.com was bought by a pro-TFG business group based in Toronto, Canada, about two years ago. This group not only lured hiiraan's owner to unspecified amount of money but they also convinced the owner to sell the website. However, what the pro-TFG group didn't disclose during the transaction was that they acted on behalf of the TFG. In addition, while only the new owners could decide what should be censored to publish, the previous owner of hiiraan.com agreed to administer the website for at least until its new owners could run it on their own. But did the TFG's quest for full control of the media stop there?
Similarly, the IRG investigation learned that a number of Somaliland websites were also approached by the same pro-TFG group and an offer was given to the owners of the websites. However, the owners kindly turned down the offer, after they learned the group's direct connection with the TFG. Now, knowing who owns hiiraan.com settles one issue, but another one looms: What's the reason behind the TFG's madness?
Virtually, every conflict involves a battle for public opinion. Presently, the key objective of the TFG is to convey a message (brainwash) to the bulk of the Somali people, not to intellectuals. However, through the eyes of many Somalis such a manipulation—a rehash of old stale lies—creates more controversy and havoc than solutions.
Although, the TFG is entitled to buy any website, lack of public knowledge as to when the ownership of hiiraan changed, and deceiving the public is what the fuss is all about. That is the public should have been informed the website operates under the TFG's authority, not independently as portrayed. Scratching your head yet!
Ever wondered why citizens of Mogadisho that resolutely oppose the occupation of their country by Ethiopia and the parachuting of a foreign- imposed Somali regime into their city are labeled as "extremists groups" by articles published on hiiraan.com? Exposing the real owners of hiiraan website may shed light on the never-ending unbalanced news—routinely regurgitated propaganda—published on that website.
Finally, many respectful writers who have been baffled by hiiraan's refusal to publish their articles know now that the website is run by the TFG, and therefore no room for criticizing the Somali client regime. No more wonders either why hiiraan.com chose to publishes numerous anti-Somaliland articles that spew out a venom that perhaps contributes to mutual mistrust, hatred and rivalry in all aspects of life between Somalia and Somaliland. The true colors of hiiraan website have been exposed. No need to be fooled anymore. Little readers knew that hiiraan.com (or TFG.com) has been owned and operated by the current Somali regime, for quite some time.