'Neither West, nor East' was the slogan adopted after Iran's Islamic revolution, but the call for self-reliance has yielded mixed results in the 30 years since.

While Iranians shouted 'independence, liberty, Islamic republic' during the revolution which toppled the US-backed monarchy, hopes for full freedom and democracy have yet to be realised.

Veteran revolutionaries see the Islamic republic system as a far cry from the 'despotic' rule of the Shah that ended on 10 February 1979 and are proud Iran is an independent state free from foreign meddling.

For many conservatives it is an ideal state where people choose their rulers, and even the supreme leader - the undisputed number one who has the final say in all key policy issues - is elected by an indirect vote.

However, moderates and reformists complain that the current system, where a powerful watchdog vets candidates running for public office, prevents people from determining their fate through a truly democratic process.Shah

Regardless, 30 years after the revolution, Iran retains its ambition to emerge as a regional power, but unlike the US-backed Shah (right), it is now using an anti-American policy to achieve the same goal.

'One of the slogans of the revolution was independence, and this has been achieved 100%,' said regional expert Mohammed Sadegh al-Hosseini.

'The Shah also wanted to emerge as a regional player with the backing of the US but today, decisions... good or bad, are made in Tehran.'

The United States had stationed thousands of soldiers and advisors in Iran during the regime of the Shah, who was also one of the biggest buyers of US weaponry.

But with the revolution of 1979 and the subsequent severing of diplomatic relations following the capture of the US embassy in Tehran by Islamist students, Iran turned its back on Washington.

Three decades later the oft-chanted slogan 'Death to America' remains relevant, especially since the ascent to the presidency in 2005 of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vocal advocate of anti-Americanism.

Several attempts by his two predecessors - the conservative Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the reformist Mohammad Khatami - to normalise relations with the West have since been forgotten.

The focus once more is on the ideals of the revolution.

Mr Ahmadinejad did write letters to former US president George W Bush and he also congratulated his successor Barack Obama, but at the same time he has often announced that the 'American empire is on the slope to disappearance.'

He has also issued provocative statements several times against key US regional ally Israel, including widely reported comments that the Zionist regime is set to disappear from the world map.

While Mr Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied that his comments represented any sort of threat, the response to them has served only to widen the gap between the West and Tehran.

'The Islamic regime has based its identity on anti-Americanism. President Ahmadinejad has only strengthened it,' said one EU diplomat who did not wish to be identified.

The Islamic republic's regional ambitions have raised concerns not only in Washington but also among European and Arab countries.

'The current political power has actually isolated Iran from the other great nations on the international stage,' said well-known Iranian journalist and analyst Mashallah Shamsolvaezin.

'To compensate, he plays the card with countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and also with Russia and China.'

Iran's desire to be recognised as a powerful nation has led it to pursue nuclear and missile programmes, graphically illustrated by this week's launch into orbit of the country's first domestically-built satellite called Omid (Hope).

Tehran has also adopted a policy of intervention in the Arab world - its vocal support for both Hezbollah and Hamas being the most visible signs of this policy.

'Iran does enjoy a certain popularity on the Arab street where Ahmadinejad is quite popular after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, but local authorities there are worried about this influence,' said Mr Hosseini.

The way Iran reacted to the recent 22-day Israeli onslaught on Gaza ended up showing its isolation in the Arab world, which refused to acknowledge the role it had played in helping end the crisis.

It now remains to be seen whether, after three decades, Iran can set aside its revolutionary slogans.