And it appears that the president of neighboring Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, is urging his Malian counterpart to take a hard line against the MNLA, mindful of Niger's own troubles with its Tuareg minority.
But a new deal for the Tuareg -- involving a greater measure of autonomy and long-promised economic aid for the region -- is essential if stability is to be restored in the north.
It won't happen overnight, and the French -- as the former colonial power -- can't be seen to be dictating the process. But there is already a window of opportunity with the split of Ansar Dine, the Islamist group created in 2011 and led by Iyad Ag Ghali. While his whereabouts are unknown, his deputy, Alghabass Ag Intallah, has formed a splinter group -- the Islamic Movement of Azawad -- and says he is ready for negotiations. Similar noises are coming from the MNLA in recent days.
Peeling more moderate Tuareg away from the stew of rebel groups is a first step toward restoring security.
Putting Mali back together again
The second step will be to give Tuareg a stake in the country through greater autonomy. France is aware of the need for a broader political settlement in Mali if the militants are to be kept away.
"Our objective cannot be achieved with arms only," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told CNN affiliate BFM.
The United States is urging a new political dialogue in Mali ahead of critical elections scheduled for July -- elections that can only be successful if the country is pacified. And the schedule looks demanding -- a new constitution, new voters rolls, polling security, all within months.
And there's a humanitarian crisis to tackle too. There are already more than 150,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, and many more internally displaced. International NGOs have moved swiftly to provide food aid to recently liberated parts of northern Mali, but expect their assistance will be needed for the rest of the year.
In parallel with efforts to restore democracy, the European Union will try to train the Malian army. About 200 instructors are likely to arrive by mid-February, with 16 member states pledging training assistance. They will have their hands full: the mutiny Friday in Bamako is the latest illustration of a fractious, ineffective force.
Not so long ago, Mali was one of Africa's success stories. One president ceded power peacefully to the next. Travelers marveled at the centuries-old religious and cultural heritage of Timbuktu. The country's musical talent -- second to none in Africa -- had western artists beating a path to the studios of Bamako. Its footballers found fame and fortune in Europe.
Now, despite the events of the last month, Mali's future looks much more uncertain.
Alex Thurston, author of Sahel Blog, says that "If efforts at national reunification and reconstruction falter, bitterness among northern communities, combined with unaddressed grievances, could plunge Mali back into crisis a few years from now."
Acknowledging the daunting task ahead, more than forty of Mali's best-known musicians gathered in Bamako last month to record a song, "Mali Peace."
"What's going on in Mali?" they sang. "Do we really want to kill each other? Do we really want to betray each other? If we are not careful, our children will suffer tomorrow."