Actually I've often wondered the same thing as you on the basis of what we are told in Daniel in regards to the King of the North and the King of the South. The King of the North was Syria (which encompassed a greater land mass than now as Sean was kind enough to clarify in another thread) and the King of the South was Egypt. Something else to think about is that I believe Syria used to be part of the Roman Empire....and also part of the Assyrian Empire (correct me if I'm wrong).
I always felt that there was a near and far prophecy in this particular section of Daniel (chapter 11 and 12 mainly) as well as in Isaiah and other prophetic books. I remember being told that countries addressed in Isaiah were in relation to Israel directionally. So, if the country of the North is addressed...than that would be the country to the North of Israel, etc. Of course I may need correcting and am always open for better info. :-) So, that's the logic I've based the idea of Syria being the country of the North.
Maybe Syria's the hook? We know that Russia, Iran, Syria and countries of their mindset are all connected and working together.
Ok, just some thoughts, hope I didnt' cause mass confusion.
On another note, in light of recent events in Syria, I happen to notice that in verse 1 of Isaiah 17 that Damascus is described as a burden. It made me pause, because indeed Damascus is becoming a burden to the world and it's leaders.
The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.